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Moroccan Earthquake Poses Threat of Increased Child Trafficking

Since the earthquake in Morocco on September 9 of this year, men on forums have decided it would be in everyone’s best interest for them to go to Morocco and marry young girls to help ‘save’ them. They are claiming it would be charity work (Hespress UK, September 2023).


This is similar to the Ukraine war, where, in the beginning, the same type of ‘charitable’ discussions were being had on these forums by, the majority of, males in the UK. The highest searches and most popular types of pornography at this time, coincidentally, were ‘Ukrainian girls’ or ‘Russian soldier and Ukrainian girl’, or ‘Ukraine rape’, which surged by 300% on porn sites as the Russian war raged on (The Independent, July 2022). If you find that disturbing, that’s because it is. 


Instead of offering help with food, clothes, money, or shelter, these forums propose using women’s bodies in exchange for ‘being saved’. 


War and disasters, man-made or natural, have always been an ominous cause of women’s suffering. Not just because of the earthquake, but also because of how abusers will appear to be ‘charitable’, whilst instead exploiting women and girls’ pain for their pleasure or gain. 


The Earthquake hit Morocco with a devastating 6.8 on the Richter scale (a scale that determines the level of threat measured by an earthquake), then measured an aftershock, 19 minutes later, of 4.9 (The BBC, September 2023; Britannica, 2023). The quake hit at 23:11 local time (22:11 GMT) and left 3,000 people dead, and a further 5,600 injured. The UN calculated that approximately 300,000 people would have been affected by the earthquake, while UNICEF reported the overall number included 100,000 children (Aajenglish News, September 2023).


The devastation has left many citizens concerned about an increase in child and sex trafficking as a repercussion. It is not hard to imagine why. Some Moroccan men have offered to marry young orphaned girls to save them, and many volunteers helping in the aftermath of the quake have been found posting questionable captions on Instagram to publicise their efforts. One caption stated:


“She doesn’t want to come with me to Casa but she whispered that when she grows up we will get married. I love you x.”

(Hespress UK, September 2023)


Facebook found the highest amount of posts that endorsed child trafficking. One post comparing the girls to the ‘modern city girl’ said:


“Why would you marry someone spoiled who still wants to dress in exposed and tight clothes, spend a lot of money, improperly raise your kids,” instead of “marrying girls who wouldn’t ask for anything”. 

(Al Jazeera, MSN, September 2023)


This has sparked outrage, with many calling out the hypocrisy and the child exploitation that would increase due to the tragedy. 


Najat Anwar, the founder of Matkisch Waldi (translated: Don’t Touch My Child), told Hespress EN in an interview on the matter:


“Based on feedback from our field coordinators, we have issued warnings about the exploitation of vulnerable children, and the chaos resulting from the tragedy, especially when orphaned children are left alone. We have even documented cases of orphaned children being exposed to illegal adoption attempts through social media” (Hespress UK, September 2023).


With more exposure to the issue, more help can be done to prevent the increase in child trafficking, but only time can tell, as Morocco recovers from the devastation. 

Edited by: Anwen Venn

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