Women’s ability to move freely and safely in public spaces supports their ability to fully participate in the civic, political, and economic life of their communities. The SWMENA survey asked women in Morocco how free or restricted they felt in associating with persons of their own choosing; expressing their views on critical issues to family members, neighbors or friends; leaving their house without permission; and moving about in public areas without fear or pressure.
- Figure 1 shows that nearly three-quarters of women in Morocco (71%) feel completely free to associate with persons of their own choosing and close to one-quarter of women (23%) feel somewhat free to do so. Six percent of women feel somewhat or completely restricted in their choices of association.
- More than nine in ten women (91%) feel somewhat or completely free moving about in public areas without fear or pressure. However, 9% feel at least somewhat restricted in moving about in public areas.
- The majority of women feel completely free (66%) in expressing their views on critical issues to family members, neighbors or friends, whereas more than a quarter feel somewhat free (27%) in doing so. Seven percent feel somewhat or completely restricted in expressing themselves.
- Three in ten women feel at least somewhat restricted in leaving their house without permission. Nearly four in ten women (37%) feel completely free to leave the house without permission. Women older than 55, however, are significantly more likely to feel completely free to leave their house compared to women ages 18-24 (54% vs. 23%).
Figure 2 shows that there are significant differences in freedom of mobility among women by marital status, age, work status and income adequacy.
- Married and single women are more than three times as likely as formerly married women to feel somewhat or completely restricted from leaving the house without permission: nine in ten women (90%) who were formerly married felt somewhat or completely free in leaving the house without permission, compared to 68% of married women and 64% of single women.
- Younger women are much more likely than older women to report restrictions on their freedom to leave the house, suggesting that this freedom increases with age: women ages 65 and older are more than twice as likely as women ages 18-24 to feel completely free leaving the house (55% and 23% respectively).
- Women working for pay are more likely than women not working for pay to feel completely or somewhat free in leaving the house without permission. Almost half of women working for pay (49%) felt completely free leaving the house without permission, compared to a little more than one-third of women who did not work for pay (36%).
- Almost two in ten women not working for pay (19%) feel completely restricted leaving the house without permission, more than twice the rate of women working for pay at 8%.
- Women at lower levels of income adequacy are more likely than their wealthier counterparts to feel completely or somewhat free in leaving the house without permission.
- More than one-third of upper-income women (34%) felt completely or somewhat restricted leaving the house without permission, compared to 19% of low-income women.
The survey asked respondents who felt somewhat or completely restricted in moving about in public areas why they felt this way. Open-ended responses were coded into categories. Up to three reasons could be provided by a single respondent. The top five most frequently cited reasons are shown in Table 1.
- “I have to get permission from my husband” along with “our tradition does not permit a woman to go out alone” were the most frequent responses (25%), and “[There is a] lack of security here” was almost as frequent (21%).
- “It is a religious obligation” was cited only three times.
The survey respondents were asked about their experiences in public spaces (local markets, walking down the street, etc.). Specifically, women were asked how frequently men made “unwanted/sexually suggestive noises, comments or gestures” and how often men “touched, pinched or made otherwise unwelcome physical contact.” Generally, unwanted physical contact is much less frequent than harassing comments and noises.
- Figure 3 shows that when in public areas, three in five women say they never experience men making unwanted/sexually comments or gestures toward them. Almost one quarter of women (24%) say that men rarely make unwelcome/sexual comments.
- One in six women (16%), however, experience harassment every time or most times they are in public spaces.
- Figure 4 shows that only 3% of women experience unwanted touching more than rarely.
- Almost seven in eight women (86%) never experience unwanted physical contact in public.
Figure 5 shows that there are also discrepancies among the experiences of single, married and formerly married women. Single women are far more likely to receive unwanted/sexual comments and experience unwelcome physical contact.
- Slightly less than nine in ten formerly married women (88%) and 87% of married women rarely or never experience men making unwanted/sexual comments, compared to 67% of single women.
- Single women are more likely than both married and formerly married women to hear unwelcome comments most, or every time they are in public spaces (10% for single women vs. 1% and 2% respectively).
- One in ten single women report being touched, pinched, or experiencing unwelcome physical contact most or every time they go out. Married and formerly married women rarely or never experience unwanted physical contact (91% and 92%).
Figure 6 shows that women in urban areas are more likely than women in rural areas to receive unwanted/sexual comments and experience unwelcome physical contact. This is not surprising, given that urban areas tend to be more congested than rural areas.
- Nearly one-quarter of women in urban areas experience harassing comments and noises most or every time they go out, compared to 5% of women in rural areas.
- Ninety-four percent of women in rural areas rarely or never experience unwanted/sexual comments, compared to only three-quarters (74%) of women in urban areas.
- Women in urban areas are five times more likely than women in rural areas to be touched or pinched most or every time they are outside (5% and 1%).
Some differences appear between Arabic and Amazigh speakers in experiences of harassment in public places (Figure 7). Amazigh-speaking women are less likely than Arabic-speaking women to experience men making unwanted/sexual comments. This trend may be related to the fact that Amazigh-speaking women are more likely than Arabic-speaking women to live in rural areas where harassment is less pervasive according to the survey results. In Morocco, 64% of Amazigh-speaking women live in rural areas, compared to 39% of Arabic-speaking women.
- Nine in ten Amazigh-speaking women never experience men making unwanted/sexual comments, compared to slightly more than eight in ten Arabic-speaking women (84%).
- The workplace is one specific public setting included in the survey where Moroccan women might experience harassment. Survey respondents were asked, “When you are at work, how often would you say that men make unwelcome physical contact, noises, comments, or gestures toward you or other women?”
- Figure 8 show that 2% of women experience sexual harassment at work either every day or most days. This includes verbal and physical harassment.
- Two percent report they are subjected to these sorts of behaviors by men once in a while and 7% said they rarely experience such harassment.
- Fortunately, more than eight in ten women (86%) have never experienced harassment at work.