FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Riding out waves and harassment

MOROCCO: Moroccan women surfers have become a common sight as they skim the waves off the coast of the capital, Rabat, but they still can face prejudice and harassment back on land.

cultureAFP

Sunday 3 June 2018, 11:45AM


Meriem, a 29-year-old Moroccan engineer and surfer, surfs off the coast of Rabat. At Rabat’s popular Udayas beach, women surfers prefer wearing traditional robes over stylish swimsuits, but they still face harassment out in the water. Photo: Fadel Senna / AFP

Meriem, a 29-year-old Moroccan engineer and surfer, surfs off the coast of Rabat. At Rabat’s popular Udayas beach, women surfers prefer wearing traditional robes over stylish swimsuits, but they still face harassment out in the water. Photo: Fadel Senna / AFP

“It’s easier in the winter because the beaches are empty,” said surfer Meriem, 29, who, like most of the women surfers, wears a wetsuit.

“In the summer we suffer a lot of harassment, that’s why we pay attention to what we wear.”

The engineer, who took up the sport four years ago, said she’s lucky to have grown up in a “tolerant” family.

For many Moroccan women from conservative backgrounds, such activities are off limits.

“Some families are ashamed that their daughters practise water sports,” said Jalal Medkouri, who runs the Rabat Surf Club on the capital’s popular Udayas beach.

The gentle waves nearby are ideal for beginners, but nestled at the foot of the 12th century Kasbah and easily visible from the capital’s bustling touristic heart, the beach is far from discreet.

Yet some club members say attitudes are changing.

Rim Bechar, 28, said that when she began surfing four years ago, “it was a bit more difficult”.

“At first, my father accompanied me whenever I wanted to surf,” she said. But now, “people are used to seeing young women in the water, it’s no longer a problem.”

Today, she surfs alone, stays all day and goes home without problems, she said.

Surfers first took to the waves off Morocco’s Atlantic Coast in the 1960s, at the popular seaside resort of Mehdia, about 50 kilometres north of the capital.

Residents say soldiers at a nearby French-American military base were the first to practise the sport there.

A handful of enthusiasts, French and Moroccan, quickly nurtured the scene, travelling further south to the lesser-known beaches of Safi and Taghazout, which later gained popularity with surfers from around the world.

The sport gradually gained Moroccan enthusiasts, including women. In September 2016, the country held its first international women’s surfing contest.

QSI International School Phuket

But mentalities differ from beach to beach.

Despite efforts to improve the status of women in the North African country, attitudes have been slow to change.

A United Nations study in 2017 found that nearly 72% of men and 78% of women think “women who dress provocatively deserve to be harassed”.

The harassment women surfers can face in Morocco ranges from looks and comments to unwanted attempts at flirtation and attention from men.

In Mehdia, however, surf instructor Mounir said it’s ‘no problem” for girls to surf.

Last summer “we even saw girls in bikinis on the beach and the authorities didn’t say anything”, he said.

Back at Udayas beach, popular with young men playing football, attitudes are more conservative.

“Girls are often harassed by the boys,” Bechar said.

“At first it wasn’t easy, so I decided to join a club.”

The Rabat Surf Club now has more than 40 surfers, half of whom are girls, Medkouri said.

“Parents encourage their children when they feel they are in good hands,” he said.

Club surfing is particularly popular among girls because the group setting cuts harassment and eases the concerns of some families.

Ikram, who also surfs there, said she hopes “all girls who were prevented by their father or brother from doing what they want will follow this path”.

“Surfing makes you dynamic,” she said.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Kurt | 03 June 2018 - 15:50:59

I respect and admire muslim women who 'surf' against the centuries old man made islamitic rules to keep women under the thumb of the men.
A fresh wind is blowing. Even in Saudie Arabia are women soon allowed to drive a car!!
In Iran young women refuse any longer to cover their head.
The blessing of international internet connections with the rest of the world.

 

Phuket community
Phuket villa property market strong in mid-range, high-end takes a hit

Please don't become like your main competitor, just a mouth-piece for the property industry. Thi...(Read More)


French expat, 78, found safe in Phuket after dinghy gets lost in storm

Claude,I knew we all get careless when getting older and and have done it so many time over and over...(Read More)


No special ‘temporary’ driver’s licences for tourists

DK, it still doesn't make your comment correct, lao khao dulls the mind, and the ability to thin...(Read More)


Phuket jet-ski, parasail operators threatened for operating in strong waves

Clever Phuket Marine office. Just warning after the weather ordeal is almost over, not BEFORE on 14...(Read More)


US withdraws from ‘cesspool’ UN rights body

Congratulations on the US action. Looking forward to Australia doing the same. I was bullied throug...(Read More)


Surapong gets two years for issuing Thaksin’s passport

It is funny to read all this shuffling. In a few years time, when democracy restored, Junta peopl...(Read More)


Phuket villa property market strong in mid-range, high-end takes a hit

Again Knight Frank is posting fake news. Anybody that is following agents sites can see the drop dow...(Read More)


Phuket condo market climbs after big hit

Nice try Knight Frank, but such fake news will not blind the eyes of people. For last 2 years you ca...(Read More)


3,000 people arrested for gambling on World Cup

What a nonsense. World wide there is legal football bidding/gambling . What is the fascination of th...(Read More)