Are you thinking of coming to Morocco? You’ve heard about the recent tragedy and are questioning if you really should come? Are you coming alone, as a woman, and are worried about it? Let me give you a few tips I’ve developed over the past few years.
- Sunglasses and earphones are your best friend.
Let’s face it, tourists are often easy to spot. As a woman (who does not look Moroccan whatsoever), catcalling and street harassment occur on a daily basis. The first time I came here, I was so shocked by it that I resorted to staying in my accommodation and only leaving when I really had to. What a boring way to visit a country! The second time around, I knew this in advance. I, therefore, bought a good pair of sunglasses, brought my earphones with me (discreet, Bluetooth ones are great so you don’t have to worry about your phone being ripped away), and immediately felt more at ease. The sunglasses make it hard for men to try to establish eye contact (a type of flirtation here), and the earphones block out the catcalls.
- Avoid being out, alone, at night.
Yep, it sucks, but it’s the reality. As much as I agree with the mindset “why should I stay inside? We should teach men to behave, not women to avoid being out!!!”, the reality is that having this attitude here will get you nothing but funny looks, and will in no way protect you. Unfortunately, this mindset does not work everywhere in the world, thus stay safe.
- Become friends with locals, and if you can, develop a good friendship with a guy your age or older.
My “host brother”, Mohammed, is the reason I can go to the movies, to events, or to bars here. I wouldn’t have the courage to do so otherwise (even though I’m sure it’s not nearly as dangerous as I think it is). A group of foreign girls is better than a girl alone, but having a local with you is reassuring.
- Stay yourself– you don’t have to buy elephant pants to be “appropriate”!
The first time I came here, I bought all kinds of typical touristy clothes to stay appropriate. I had no idea what to wear to avoid getting attention. I realised how ridiculous I looked (and how much more of a target I made myself!) walking around in flashy, elephant pants, while the women around me all wore very normal, casual, yet conservative-ish clothing.
- Learn a couple of Arabic words.
There is a myth that Moroccans all speak French– unfortunately, French is not accessible to all and has become somewhat of a status thing. Many simply cannot afford to pay for French lessons or do not attend schools that give them. Learn a couple of Arabic sentences to make your life easier.
- Avoid flashy attire
Big earrings? An Apple watch? As a tourist, you already stand out enough. No need to make yourself any more of a target.
I hope the latter tips have helped you. I’ve used these for the past month and it has made a tremendous change in the way I perceive Morocco (and experience it!).