Is it Safe for Women to Travel in Morocco?
Living in Morocco for more than five years, and organizing trips for many women from around the world. I can sincerely say that I have the knowledge, and the hands-on experience to answer this question. Travel safety in Morocco for women is a big topic that everyone talks about. Morocco is safe to travel for all of our lady friends, with some tips and common sense. While there are always risks for traveling anywhere in the world, there are probably more risks for staying home, for that matter.
Let me start by sharing with you five facts about my life in Morocco as a woman from Europe.
- I have travelled across the country and been to some of the most remote areas outside the cities.
- I lived in the Medina of Marrakech, alone, in the most authentic neighbourhood of the old town and the only problems I faced was kids playing football and cheering next to my window.
- I have been going out in my Marrakech neighborhood, Gueliz and walking back home past midnight countless of times.
- I went to the most authentic local bars with only Moroccan men. I went to dive bars, clubs and even cabarets, where Moroccan working ladies usually hangout and even there, I was never approached indecently.
- I attended to festivals, gatherings, weddings and parties in Morocco and never encountered mistreatment of any sorts.
Now you may think I was wearing a Burka most of the time Actually, I was wearing just what I would wear walking the streets of Europe. I am a pretty modest person, and I enjoy simple minimalist clothing. Additionally, I try to stay away from short skirts, shorts, tank tops and avoid any flashy clothing. More Travel Safety tips in Morocco for Women below.
Morocco, just like any other country in the world is not perfect. I’ve heard many stories of women traveling in Morocco, including myself, who had the best time ever traveling all over the country, and felt even safer than back home.
As much as it pains me as a woman, to hear about women being mistreated while traveling. We can’t paint Morocco with that brush, and we shouldn’t let fear come in our way as travelers. We have to focus on what makes us feel unsafe in the first place, with no regard to nationalities or genders.
For instance, I have recently came across so many reports of harassment targeting Morocco. While highlighting a report that says, that 73% of women in Morocco face harassment in public places. This is a serious problem, of course. So, it should be dealt with with the utmost urgency. However, it’s a global problem. Reading through the statistics at Globalissues.org, 75% of women all over the world have experienced sexual harassment. In the U.KThree quarters (75%) of U.K. women have experienced some form of violence or harassment in cities, with this number rising in cities around the world, according to new research by ActionAid U.K. In the U.SIn the U.S., 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted, during their lifetime. Stop Street Harassment, a US NGO, released a report in 2017 which states that 81% of women in the U.S. have been sexually harassed in some form.in AustraliaIn Australia, 87% of women surveyed by the Australia Institute reporting at least one form of verbal or physical street harassment and 40% not feeling safe walking in their neighbourhoods at night.
We often romanticize the idea of harassment in Italy, how many movies you watched of the “American girl in Rome” getting picked up by a “hot“ Italian man? When this happens in Morocco, we don’t see it the same way. We should be focusing on educating young people and raising awareness about the issue rather than blaming a particular culture.
Let’s look through some more facts and numbers from trustworthy organizations that could give us an idea about travel safety in Morocco for women:
The first report I found was from the Global risk expert International SOS, they have launched the 2019 Travel Risk Map, showing Morocco as “low” risk country.
Morocco rated as a low-risk country. Meaning, that it’s safe just as any other country in Europe, U.K, U.S. and Australia. Compared to countries such as Laos, Turkey, Philippines, South Africa and Mexico, that land on the Medium travel security risk. Travellers are more likely there to face a certain level of threat.
It makes so much sense that Morocco is on a low-security risk. I’ve never heard of gun shootings in Morocco. If it happens it’s extremely rare. At least, it’s not common as in many countries in Europe and the U.S.Moroccan Ministry of TourismForbes MagazineUN World Tourism Organization
Firstly, this gives us an idea about where Morocco stands, when it comes to popularity, and travel safety in Morocco for women as a destination. Besides, just open your Instagram, and you notice how many Morocco travel posts, and stories ranking on your feed.
Obviously, I’m not saying that things are perfect here. Don’t get me wrong. However, I am positive that things are improving and moving forward. Also, keep in mind that Morocco is a Muslim African developing country. So we can’t expect things like back in Europe or the U.S. Nevertheless, compared to other countries in the region, I am confident that Morocco is improving on so many levels and travel safety in Morocco for women is taken into consideration.
A new law in Morocco has passed, to eliminate violence against women in September 2018. Moreover, there is an online website, and hotlines in Morocco where women now can report harassment. Firstly, the law gives severe punishment to harassers. Additionally, those who commit the crime of harassment in public areas, will be put in prison for six months, as well as fined from 2,000 up to 10,000 MAD.
I have to be honest about this. There is no one “magic” way to deal with harassers. Every situation calls for a different approach. However, I gathered here some of the top tips to help you when traveling in Morocco as a woman.
Here are The Top 9 Tips to Help you Travel in Morocco Safely.
1Make yourself invisible:
Yes, Harry Potter knew what he was doing. This is the number one tip that will probably help you avoid 90% of attention in Morocco. – Avoiding unwanted attention is key. So put on your invisibility cloak. Leave all your revealing, flashy clothes at home and pack your loose, longer clothes in neutral colours. By revealing, I don’t mean sexy only. I mean, any clothing that locals may see as ‘different’.
2Learn about the cultural norms: Catcalling, hissing, and talking to women in the street, is seen actually as a way to express admiration for a woman in many cultures, not just Morocco. Although it’s really annoying and draining (which many men don’t seem to get), it’s not meant to be threatening, and most of the time they’re not harmful.
Also, don’t be afraid to follow the style of local women. Wear Jellabas or caftans – Moroccan love it when you embrace their culture, speak their language, and wear their traditional clothes. (don’t overdo it tho- this might have a counter-effect).
Not only loose clothes will help protect you from the Moroccan sun, but also shows a sign of modesty.
3Don’t respond/react: Walking around, Moroccan men may call you beautiful, sexy etc. Or maybe try to help you navigate the streets of the Medina. You’ll even get some proposals. This is common. The only way to deal with this, is to show a poker face and keep doing your thing. Moreover, avoid eye contact, if you smile or start a conversation with them; this shows that you’re interested. I know it’s hard. Living here, I wouldn’t get anywhere if I was to react to everyone cat-calling me. So, stay positive and enjoy your holiday!
4Learn to say ‘NO’. Sometimes, they can be persistent and will offer to do you a favour, give you directions, or show you a rooftop with a great view. Don’t be ashamed of being unfriendly. By accepting their help, you agree to go further, and this may come across as being compliant.
5Avoid walking alone, and through unpopulated areas, especially at night.Always make sure you have a driver to take you to your hotel. If you’re planning a night out, keep that in mind. If you feel unsafe at any point, stay calm, and walk to the closest busiest street or market.
6 Be aware of your surroundings, and don’t underestimate the power of your instincts. Many times, we have an alarm system in us that tells us when a situation is about to get unsafe. Use common sense, and trust your intuition. If someone is cat-calling in the street, ignore them. it’s likely a just passing by situation. But if the person is following you, and you feel like things are escalating, make sure to find a busy public place, and stay calm. Moroccans are helpful most of the time, and will look out for tourists visiting their country. Clearly, just the fact you’re reading this now, you’ll probably have no trouble at all.
7Walk around with a purpose. If you’re walking around with no destination in mind, you’ll be seen as just strolling around, and people will be trying to “help you out” or ‘show you around’. Always have an itinerary in mind and make sure you know where you are going. Avoid checking maps or your phone in the street. Look and act like a local!
8Wear the wedding ring! Many travel blogs I’ve read say that you shouldn’t change who you are, be yourself and all that pep talk. They recommend to not lie about the fact that you don’t have a husband just because you’re traveling to another country. If any tip will help make you more comfortable traveling or make you feel just a little safer, I’d say go for it!
9Make new friends. If you’re traveling alone, don’t be afraid of making friends to go discover the country with. Make friends in the hotel you’re staying. It’s great to have someone to speak with and get their perspective. There are many ways of making friends, join a travel group forum, go on an excursion, and meet other travelers. Use Couchsurfing, you don’t necessarily need to stay in someone’s house. Download the app, and you can meet other Couchsurfers who are nearby. Who knows, maybe you’ll find someone from your home town. Walking around with a male friend helps, Moroccan guys seem to give up when they see you’re walking with a guy.
I know all these tips will not make a difference in a large scale. So if you’re ready and committed, and genuinely want to change things for the better, let us know. I can recommend some female guides for your trip, or help arrange for you to visit women-ran organizations in Morocco, that do a lot of work to empower women with different kind of projects. I believe that change comes from within, and so If you have the time or the resources, why not give them some help. Here are a few of them!
- Ifassen: a non-profit association that manufactures beautiful Berber accessories from recycled plastic bags by Moroccan women in difficult situations. This is a great place to shop for gifts while empowering Moroccan women to have a decent living.
- Amal Women Center: Amal Women’s Training Center and Moroccan Restaurant is a non-profit organization in Marrakesh, Morocco, that helps disadvantaged women gain work experience by training them in the preparation of Moroccan food and international food. So, go there for lunch, the food is delicious, and you know for sure that your money’s worth is going to a good cause.
- Visit or buy some clothes/ crafts that are made with care by the women of the Ikhae Fraternite Association. The women have also begun an initiative where they make soap for sale.
Morocco is not perfect, just like any other country in the world, you will find the same problems as back home. However, Morocco is safe to travel for women, alone or not. Don’t be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone and don’t let the news and the negative blog posts stop you from visiting the country. Traveling and living in Morocco has opened my mind to so many things, and helped me grow in so many levels.
Morocco is one of the safest countries in the region. Moreover, it can be safer than some countries in Europe and parts of the U.S. if you use a little common sense, trust your intuition and follow the tips I gave you here. You will be more than fine traveling in Morocco alone as a woman. Not only that, but you will make some beautiful memories that you will always remember.
Want to learn more? check this impressions video by solo female traveler in Morocco from Phoenix, U.S. http://www.beyond-morocco.com/wp-admin/Travel%20Safety%20In%20Morocco%20For%20Women%20-%20The%20Ultimate%20Facts%20&%20Tips%20__files/KA2Q7CMjx7Q.html
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any safety questions about travel in Morocco for women.
Curious of what kind of road trips you could have with us in Morocco? check Tom’s Immersive Journey across the country. And find out why he decided to visit Morocco! Follow us on instagram to see our 3000 kms bike tour.
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