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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                         

Kingdom of Morocco

Moroccan economic policies brought macroeconomic stability to the country in the early 1990s but have not spurred growth sufficient to reduce unemployment - nearing 20% in urban areas –

Moroccan authorities understand that reducing poverty and providing jobs are key to domestic security and development. In 2005, Morocco launched the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), a $2 billion social development plan to address poverty and unemployment and to improve the living conditions of the country's urban slums.

Long-term challenges include improving education and job prospects for Morocco's youth, and closing the income gap between the rich and the poor, which the government hopes to achieve by increasing tourist arrivals and boosting competitiveness in textiles.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Morocco

Morocco is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked within the country from rural areas to urban centers to work as maids or laborers, or for exploitation in the sex trade. Men, women, and children are trafficked to European and Middle Eastern countries as illegal migrants who become exploited for forced labor and prostitution. Young Moroccan girls from rural areas are recruited to work as child maids in cities, but often face restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Moroccan boys experience involuntary servitude as apprentices in the artisan and construction industries and in mechanic shops. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009     Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Morocco.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


The New Muslim Personal Status Law in Morocco: Context, Proponents, Adversaries, and Arguments [PDF]

Moha ENNAJI, (Rutgers University & University of Fès, Morocco)

[accessed 7 February 2018]

In an interview published Saturday by French magazine "Le Figaro Madame," Belqadi said "since the beginning of his reign, HM King Mohammed VI voiced support for women's rights. Today, she went on, His Majesty has launched a deep-rooted reform. And it takes courage to deal with such a hot issue in Muslim countries." Morocco could become a model for Muslim countries in the field of women's rights," said law professor Fatima Belqadi, the first woman appointed at Morocco's Advisory Council of Human Rights (CCDH). In an interview published on January 17, 2004 by French magazine "Le Figaro Madame," Belqadi said "since the beginning of his reign, HM King Mohammed VI voiced support for women's rights. Today, she went on, His Majesty has launched a deep-rooted reform. And it takes courage to deal with such a hot issue in Muslim countries.

Portrait Mahi Binebine

Katrin Schneider,, 24.06.2003

[accessed 3 September 2014]

JOURNEY INTO DEATH - No one knows exactly how many people attempt the dangerous illegal crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar each year, though their number probably runs into the hundreds of thousands. Conservative estimates suggest that hundreds of them perish in the attempt. Though most of these individuals will appear only as statistics, or in brief news reports of bodies washed up on the beaches of Spain, Mahi Binebine’s novel gives them a human face - and a history.

Street Life

BBC World Service, 1st July 2000

[accessed 21 February 2011]

SLAVE TRADE - The neglect of Morocco's street-children is just the tip of the iceberg of Morocco's child crisis. Across the kingdom, I encountered dozens of children treated as commodities, just as the slave trade of old.  'Parents are raising their children for sale,' says Bashir Nzaggi, news editor with the respected Moroccan newspaper, Liberation. 'They send them to work in the towns, and never see them except to collect their pay-packets.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Morocco

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 17 June 2021]


Children in Western Sahara engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including agriculture and forced domestic work; they also produced artisanal handicrafts. Laws related to the minimum age for work and the use of children for illicit activities do not meet international standards and government programs that target child labor did not fully address the problem.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 3 May 2020]


Child laborers, especially girls working as domestic helpers, are denied basic rights and are frequently abused by their employers. A 2018 labor law meant to protect young women employed as household workers requires employers to use written contracts, sets a minimum working age of 18 (after a five-year phase-in period during which 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to work), mandates a day off each week, and sets a minimum wage. Rights groups criticized the legislation for failing to provide support to reintegrate domestic workers into society, and for permitting girls under 18 to work until 2023.

A 2016 law criminalized human trafficking; existing measures had defined and banned only some forms of trafficking and left many victims unprotected. Immigrant laborers, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, are often employed informally and subject to significant exploitation.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 19 April 2019]

[accessed 3 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 708]

Morocco is a source, destination, and transit country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. (8; 9; 10; 20; 26)

According to local union observations, rural Moroccan girls, some as young as age 6, are recruited for domestic work in private urban homes, as are girls from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Senegal. Some of these girls are subjected to physical and verbal abuse, excessive working hours without regular periods of rest or days off, and no access to educational opportunities. (7; 10; 27).

Summary of midterm reviews and major evaluations of country programmes - Middle East and North Africa region

UN Economic and Social Council, 19 July 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

14. Morocco is a leader in the region in combating commercial sexual exploitation of children.

15. According to the study, several key factors were associated with child sexual exploitation: poverty, single-parent households, abuse and maltreatment in early childhood, peer pressure, and absence of sex education. Clients are both nationals and foreigners, with an increasing number of sex tourists coming from the West and from the Gulf region. More than 70 per cent of the children interviewed had been informed about health risks but knowledge about HIV/AIDS and prevention was limited.

16. Even if they condemn sexual exploitation, families sometimes do not question their children about their activities, especially if the families are poor and the children bring money to the household.

Empowering Girls and Young Women at Risk

Source:  International Human Rights Law Group

[accessed 21 February 2011]

Empowering Girls and Young Women at Risk in Morocco is intended to be a comprehensive and practical guide to working with girls and young women at risk from a human rights based approach. (International Human Rights Law Group)

The International Human Rights Law Group are pleased to announce the publication of "Empowering Girls and Young Women at Risk in Morocco: A Resource Book on Sexual Abuse, Forced Labor, and Trafficking in Persons in Prostitution and Domestic Service", recently produced by the Morocco Field Office of the International Human Rights Law Group in collaboration with a Working Group of 13 local NGOs from diverse sites across Morocco.

Traffickers hold thousands of children, women in bondage

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Lagos, 12 November 2003

[accessed 9 March 2015]

Traffickers who specialise in taking young women to Europe, where they are held in debt bondage and forced into prostitution, have established networks all over West Africa, according to police and NGO sources.  From bases scattered all over the region the women are taken on the tortuous journey across the Sahara Desert to destinations in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, from where attempts are made to smuggle them to Europe.

ECPAT International North Africa Regional Consultation on the Elimination of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Rabat Morocco, 12-13 June 2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

ECPAT International, in cooperation with UNICEF, organised a Regional Consultation on North Africa at the Hotel IBIS, in Rabat, Morocco, from 12-13th of June 2003. The agenda for the two day meeting covered aspects of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Chad, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, in particular, the sexual abuse of domestic workers, early marriages and child prostitution. The meeting also considered how networking can help the implementation of the Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for Action, as well as the Declaration of the Arab-African Forum against sexual exploitation of children, adopted in Rabat on the 24-26 October 2001 (in preparation for the Yokohama Conference in December 2001).

New report discusses child abuse in Morocco

Imane Belhaj for Magharebia in Casablanca – 05/07/2007

[accessed 21 February 2011]

[accessed 7 February 2018]

The report explores the origins of sexual exploitation. Most stem from blatant violations of children’s socio-economic rights—the right to a respectable standard of living, the right to education, the right not to work, the right to play— but also from a lack of sexual education and awareness at schools. Poverty appears to be the decisive factor pushing children into prostitution alongside factors such as the break-up of the family unit, mistreatment within the family and the absence of a national action plan delineating a strategy for preventing violence against youth.

Dying to Leave

Thirteen, New York Public Media, September 25th, 2003

[accessed 21 February 2011]

[accessed 18 February 2018]

VICTIMS - According to the U.S. State Department, some Moroccans seeking work in Europe and the Middle East as domestic servants or in the hotel or construction industry have been forced into situations of coerced labor, narcotics trafficking, or commercial sexual exploitation. In November 2002 the press uncovered a trafficking network in which young women paid $2,000 for work contracts in Jordan, and upon arrival they were forced into prostitution. A month earlier nine people were arrested in Casablanca for offering fraudulent work contracts to Europe for $4,000. Similar scams were reported in 1999 where the women were brought to Persian Gulf states. There are also reports that some who transit from West African countries through Morocco to Europe are trafficked.

Internal trafficking of children from rural areas to cities for domestic servitude is widespread. Parents of rural children contract their daughters as child maids to wealthier urban families. According to a 2001 UNICEF-funded study there are more than 13,000 girls younger than 15 working as child maids in Casablanca alone, while the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 50,000 all over Morocco. Many of these child domestic workers are subjected to psychological and physical abuse. One report claimed that four percent of the girls are sexually abused.

NOWHERE TO TURN: State Abuses of Unaccompanied Migrant Children by Spain and Morocco

Human Rights Watch Reports, Vol.14, No. 4 (D), May 2002

[accessed 21 February 2011]


THE PRESSURES ON CHILDREN TO MIGRATE - Children in Morocco are exposed to a variety of factors that encourage migration. Many unaccompanied migrant children we interviewed told us that they saw no future for themselves in Morocco, a stark response to Morocco's demographic and economic reality. Almost one fifth of the total population lives in poverty, up from 13 percent in 1991, and the World Bank classifies almost half the population as "economically vulnerable." Forty-four percent of the poor are children under fifteen. The majority of those living in poverty are concentrated in rural areas, where many of the children we interviewed had lived. Official unemployment rates at the end of 2001 stood at 13 percent, with unemployment rates for youth aged fifteen to twenty-four at 20 percent. Legislation mandating free, compulsory education from ages six to fifteen and World Bank-financed educational reforms have increased school attendance, but primary enrollment rates remain low compared to other lower-middle-income countries. Despite significant rural/urban and gender disparities in access to education, survey data show poverty to be the "single most important obstacle for non-enrollment of school-age children in both urban and rural areas.

Rights Of The Child - Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Ms. Ofelia Calcetas-Santos

UN Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-seventh session, 7 November 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 8 September 2011]

13. Once they arrive in their employer’s home, they are extremely vulnerable to exploitation. The girl is usually far away from home, and certainly cannot go back to her parents at night. Often she has no opportunity to meet people outside of her new household and consequently has nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. She is unlikely to see much of her family for several years, and what little money she earns is usually given straight to her parents.

15. In most cases, the girls’ work involved cleaning and general housework, looking after the children and doing the cooking for the whole family. Over 25 per cent of the girls questioned confirmed that their work involved all three tasks. Seventy-two per cent of the girls began their working day before 7.00 and 65 per cent did not finish until after 23.00; 81 per cent declared that they did not get a single day off in the week and 34 per cent claimed that they had to continue to work even when they were sick. In over 80 per cent of the cases, the child’s salary, which was usually less than 300 dirham per month (10 dirham = US$ 1), was sent directly to their parents. Twenty-five per cent claimed that they were never allowed to be visited by their parents; 43 per cent of parents reported that they visited their child once a month and 36 per cent reported that they visited the child in order to collect her salary.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 2003

[accessed 21 February 2011]

[60] While noting the efforts of the State party to prevent and combat child labour (ratification of ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182, ILO/IPEC program to fight child labour), the Committee is concerned that the incidence of economic exploitation remains widespread in the agricultural and handicraft sectors, including metalworking and jewellery-, carpet- and mosaic‑making.  The Committee is also deeply concerned at the situation of domestic servants (petites bonnes), mostly girls, who are subjected to harsh working conditions and abuse.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 21 February 2011]


Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 3 May 2020]


Child laborers, especially girls working as domestic helpers, are denied basic rights. A 2016 labor law for household workers required written contracts, set a minimum age of 18 (with a five-year phase-in period during which those aged 16 and 17 are allowed to work), stipulated weekly rest periods, and provided minimum wage guidelines. The quality of enforcement of the law, which took effect in August 2017, remains to be seen. Separately, Parliament adopted a law in 2016 to criminalize human trafficking; existing measures had defined and banned only some forms of trafficking and left many victims unprotected.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 21 February 2011]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Trafficking of women for prostitution was prevalent, and prostitution was a problem particularly in cities with large numbers of tourists, as well as near towns with large military installations. Prostitution of trafficked minors was a particular problem in the village of El Hajeb near Meknes, as well as in Agadir and Marrakech, which attracted sex tourists from Europe and the Arab Gulf states. To combat prostitution the government amended the penal code in 2003 to make sex tourism a crime, while other amendments increased the penalties for promoting child pornography and child prostitution and for employing underage children. Recent arrests indicate that the amendment had an impact.

Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005

[accessed 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The practice of adoptive servitude, in which urban families employ young rural girls and use them as domestic servants in their homes, was widespread. Credible reports of physical and psychological abuse in such circumstances were widespread. Some orphanages have been charged as complicit in the practice. More often, parents of rural girls contracted their daughters to wealthy urban families and collected the salaries for their work as maids. Adoptive servitude was accepted socially, was unregulated by the Government, and only in recent years began to attract public criticism. The problem remained prevalent, although the National Observatory of Children's Rights has conducted, since 2000, a human rights awareness campaign regarding the plight of child maids.

The legal minimum age of employment was 15 years. The number of children working illegally as domestic servants was high: 45 percent of household employees were between the ages of 10 and 12 and 26 percent were under the age of 10, according to a 2001 joint study by the Moroccan League for the Protection of Children and UNICEF. The report denounced the poor treatment a number of the children received, such as being forced to work all day with no breaks. Many children worked either as domestic servants, artisan apprentices, or in some other capacity that kept them from attending school.

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Women were trafficked abroad, and internal trafficking was also a problem, particularly of women for sexual exploitation or of young girls for domestic service.

The country was a transit point for trafficking and alien smuggling to Europe. Hundreds of citizens and foreigners, most from sub-Saharan Africa, drown annually attempting to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, or attempting to reach the Canary Islands from Western Sahara.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 21 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - In urban areas, girls can be found working as domestic servants, often in situations of unregulated “adoptive servitude.”  In these situations, girls from rural areas are trafficked, “sold” by their parents, and “adopted” by wealthy urban families to work in their homes.  Girls and boys working as domestic servants and street vendors are increasingly targets of child sex tourism, particularly in the cities of Marrakech and Casablanca.  Use of minors as prostitutes for sex tourists from Europe and the Gulf region has occurred in the village of El Hajeb near Meknes.  Children are also “rented” out by their parents to other adults to beg.

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