“Do you live alone?” It was a simple question I asked Mara, my friend from Austria. I didn’t think the answer to this question would make me jealous of Mara, and her ability to be free, transparent, and strong in her society with no need to fight for her freedom, independence, or ever her own lifestyle.
Mara was astonished when I told her that it was difficult for me to find a flat to rent when I was working and living in Tangier – not because there were no flats available, but because there were no flats available to single women!
Even in Tangier, which is considered an international city – full of foreign people (especially from Spain), as well as Moroccans coming from big cities like Rabat and Casablanca – people still believe that home with the family is the logical place for a single woman. Even worse, the consensus is that those women who come from other cities to live alone far from their families, whether for work or otherwise, are not good girls.
For this reason most landlords refuse to rent flats to single women, and if they do happen to do it, they won’t hesitate to play the role of the husband or the father: to control your movements, ask about your guests, and tell you that it’s forbidden to host male friends in your flat.
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I laughed when Mara, my roommate, told me that she is cohabiting with two people, a girl and a man…
I remember when I first arrived in Tangier and was looking for a roommate, I asked my colleagues at the radio station where I worked if there were any men or women that might be willing to share with me.
They were astonished – for them the possibility of having a male roommate was just unfathomable. Even in the minds of these highly qualified, open-minded journalists, only related men and women were able to live together: husband and wife, father and daughter, sister and brother.
What I don’t understand, and will never accept, is why those people who refuse to rent flats to single Moroccan women will easily rent it to foreign women – and they don’t insist on observing her, or controlling her guests. For them, foreign women are independent and free in a way Moroccan women will never be.
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Your Middle East.