#MeTooUniv: Harassment of female students, towards the end of impunity in Morocco?

Morocco / Western Sahara, Newsletter, Women’s rights and gender justice

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No exception to the rest of the world, Morocco continues to feel the positive effects of the #MeToo movement. The latest target of the movement is the Moroccan universities, where silence and taboo have long reigned supreme when it comes to sexual harassment. Sadly famous in the higher educational sector – especially in the public one – the phenomenon of harassment at university finally seems to be recognised at the legislative level. A long and overdue step forward. 

Despite proven legislative progress in the field of women’s rights and women’s protection (see the anti-harassment law promulgated in 2018), it was not until the end of 2021 and a media crisis that the university sector also entered the dance.

During the transition from 2021 to 2022, several separate cases involving two renown Moroccan schools and a faculty (the National School of Commerce and Management in Oujda, the King Fahd Institute of Translation in Tanger, and the Faculty of Settat) have finally made it possible to get a legislative answer commensurate with the gravity of the facts.  

Riding the wave of the #MeToo movement, in a context marked both by the departure of islamists from power, the spread of a new Covid-19 variant and the closing of borders, the Moroccan female students victims of sexual harassment are now being vocal on social networks through the hashtags #metoouniv and #zero_tolerance. Following numerous publications, dozens of local newspapers published in their columns the evocative title “Sex against good grades”, thus denouncing the acts of sexual harassment suffered by female students in the three above-mentioned educational institutions. Echoed at the international level, these news strengthened public opinion calls and was not out of consequence.  

At the end of the day, a university teacher was imprisoned for two years and four others are now awaiting their trial. Moreover, dozens of sexual harassment cases were finally taken seriously and various universities set up toll-free hotlines and support units. The minister in charge has also promised a zero tolerance policy against harassment, additional support and facilitated access to justice for the victims. But, most of all, the voice of the Moroccan female students victims of harassment is now finally free from that taboo at university.