Moroccan Girls at Risk After Earthquake

Moroccan Girls at Risk After Earthquake
Photo by josie-stephens via Pexels


Mariana Mayor Lima

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

Morocco was struck by a devastating 6.8 magnitude earthquake on September 8, with its epicentre located in the Atlas Mountains. [1] While the entire population faces the consequences, Moroccan girls, in particular, find themselves in an increasingly dangerous situation. Having survived the catastrophe, these girls now face a range of serious threats, including an increased risk of human trafficking, forced marriages, and exploitation through social media, all exacerbated by the current lack of awareness and reporting. [2]

It is reported that Moroccan men are promoting marriages with girls from the affected areas through social media, even if the girls are under the age of 18. [3] Yasmina Benslimane, a Moroccan activist, and founder of Politics4Her, a nonprofit organisation promoting gender equality in politics, has raised concerns about this issue. Initially focused on menstrual care advocacy, she and other women’s rights activists shifted their attention after discovering a campaign encouraging Moroccan men to travel to remote villages under the cover of “rescuing” young girls. [4]

This scenario is exacerbated by concerning general statistics from the United Nations Development Programme, which reveal that women and girls are 14 times more likely to succumb to disasters than men. [5] It highlights the urgent need for a disaster relief approach that addresses gender-specific vulnerabilities.

The impact of the earthquake on girls’ education is equally devastating. Education for All Morocco, a charity dedicated to girls’ education, suffered substantial damage to its vital boarding houses, located near the epicentre of the earthquake. [6] These houses played a fundamental role, being an alternative for girls from remote areas where infrastructure is limited, to have access to education. [7]

For Moroccan girls, education represents more than just acquiring knowledge, it is a lifeline capable of transforming their future. Education offers them opportunities, empowerment, and a means to break cycles of poverty and gender-based oppression. The earthquake stressed the irrefutable importance of prioritising girls’ education in disaster recovery efforts, benefiting not only their perspectives but also the broader advancement of societies as a whole.

Sources and further reading:

[1] The Guardian, ‘We need to start again’: Morocco’s earthquake puts girls’ education at risk 16 September 2023 <>  accessed 19 September 2023.

[2] Politics4Her, ‘EARTHQUAKE RELIEF IN MOROCCO AND RISK OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING’ (15 September 2023), p. 5 <>  accessed 19 September 2023.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Al Jazeera, ‘Moroccan girls at risk of sexual assault, forced marriage after earthquake’ (18 September 2023)

<> accessed 19 September 2023.

[5] Ibid.

[6] The Guardian, ‘We need to start again’: Morocco’s earthquake puts girls’ education at risk 16 September 2023 <>  accessed 19 September 2023.

[7] Ibid.