Main Menu
Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                   

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]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text 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 aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  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.


Shelters for Morocco's street children are a drop in an ocean

Imane Belhaj, Magharebia, Casablanca, 13 March 2008

[accessed 22 June 2011]

[accessed 25 December 2016]

Othmane left his home and school at the age of 14 to live on the street. He no longer wanted to see his mother fight the daily battle to get bread for his five little siblings, struggle to lease a shantytown house and pay for his school expenses. "The street is not more merciful," Othmane says "This is a lie; but at least she will not have to think about my daily living. In the meantime, I may be able to help her." Othmane carries bags of vegetables and other purchases for customers at a nearby market. In this way, he earns a few dirhams a day, enough to bring a little money back home when he visits once a week and still be able to buy the cheap narcotics which help him endure his suffering.

Othmane is part of the growing number of street children in Morocco. These are the homeless and marginalized youths without identity or family. The sidewalks are their shelters and the bakeries' doorsteps are their pillows.

In Casablanca, these children's main "residences" are alleys in the old city, the port, the train station and the fruits and vegetables wholesale market. The port provides them with an opportunity to emigrate illegally. The wholesale market gives them the chance to work as porters and make money to buy drugs. At the train station, they can earn a bit from helping passengers or by begging for handouts from tourists.


*** ARCHIVES ***

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]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - A 2001 study found that street children in Morocco engage in diverse forms of work including selling cigarettes, begging, shining shoes, and other miscellaneous occupations.  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.  Children are also “rented” out by their parents to other adults to beg.

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 27 March 2020]

CHILDREN - A May 2004 report from the Secretariat for Literacy and Non‑Formal Education estimated that as many as 1.5 million children between the ages of 9 to 15 were not in school. Over 140 thousand were enrolled in government remedial and vocational education programs.

The Ministry of National Education stated its goal was to reduce the student dropout rate from the current 40 percent to 20 percent. In the past the dropout rate had been as high as 70 percent. The ministry attributed the reduction in the rate was a result of boarding schools established in small towns and rural areas. Students were able to attend these schools, spend the night, and receive meals.

In 2003 the government signed an accord with Spain to repatriate unaccompanied minors. As part of the accord, Spain agreed to help the government reunify children with their families, place the children in halfway houses, and provide remedial education for the repatriated children. The accord has assisted the government with the repatriated minors; however, during the year a problem developed concerning these unaccompanied repatriated children. Upon their return to the country, the children encountered material difficulties and abuse on the streets, as well as abuse by border officials. The government had limited capacity to deal with this problem.

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]

[52] The Committee notes the efforts undertaken by the State party, notably through the National Five-Year Plan for Social and Economic Development (2000-2004), but remains concerned about the large number of children who do not enjoy their right to an adequate standard of living, including children belonging to poor families, children living in remote rural areas and street children.

[58] The Committee is deeply concerned at the situation of Moroccan children who are deported, notably in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla in Spain.  In particular, the Committee is concerned at allegations of police brutality against such children.  The Committee is further concerned that these children, once they are back on the territory of the State party, do not receive adequate protection or assistance and that their situation is not monitored.

[64] The Committee welcomes the study on street children undertaken by the State party (report, para. 318), but expresses its concern at their increasing number and at the lack of specific policies and programs to address this situation and to provide these children with adequate assistance.

Haunting images of 5,000 African charity trip

This is Hull and East Riding, April 12, 2008

[accessed 22 June 2011]

[accessed 25 December 2016]

After boarding an overnight ferry from King George Dock to Holland, they drove down through Europe before boarding another boat to Morocco.

Justine said: “I knew the people would be poor, but I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see. In every village and town we went through, from Morocco to Senegal, there were hoards of street children chasing our vehicles.

“They had no money, little food, few clothes and had lived in real poverty their whole lives, yet they were so incredibly happy. Just having the chance to play football with us made them smile and it was amazing to see.”

Nobody's constituency

Ahmed El Amraoui, Al Jazeera, Mdiq, northern Morocco, 09 Sep 2007

[accessed 22 June 2011]

PRECARIOUS EXISTENCE - At first, Abdel Fatah was reluctant to revisit his unhappy childhood or unlock the mysteries of street life, but the promise of a hot meal and money made him open up.  "I went to school for only one year. I quit because I did not like it, neither did my mother. My father abandoned us when I was a child. My mother was cruel and used to blame me and my other two brothers for her misfortune. I left home and started to work in construction when I was 11 years old. But the man I used to work for was very abusive," Abdel Fatah said.  "After working for a few months, I found myself on the street with nothing to eat, no clothes and nowhere to sleep. But I found other children out there who later became my friends. Now I am happy and free."

ADDICTIONS - Abdel Fatah started to smoke at the age of 11, and a year later his new friends pushed him to sniff glue. He sleeps in different places every night, mostly in mosques, public gardens and in bus stations.  His mother never bothered to inquire about him, he said.

Moroccan civil society and government try to help children at risk

Sarah Touahri, Magharebia, Rabat, 02 February 2007

[accessed 22 June 2011]

[accessed 25 December 2016]

In the backstreets of Rabat, children comb the streets and turn up at mosques and bakeries looking for charitable souls. Mohcine Zalafe, 10, is one of them. Over the past year he has become used to approaching passers-by next to the bus station in Rabat, looking sickly and pale-faced, and dressed in filthy clothes. "I can collect between 80 and 120 Dirhams a day," he says proudly.  "The older you get, the less people want to give you money," says his friend, 16-year-old Samir Bouchtaoui.  The two boys are hardly ever separated. Mohcine’s mission is to collect as much money as possible and Samir undertakes to "protect" him from the other street children.

Child glue sniffing rises in Morocco

Pascale Harter, BBC News, Rabat, 21 December, 2004

[accessed 22 June 2011]

A non-governmental organisation in Morocco says substance abuse among children has reached alarming levels.  The Baiti association says 98% of children living on the streets in Morocco are now addicted to sniffing glue and the number is growing.  They shine shoes, beg from passers-by or even sell their bodies in return for the $3 they need to buy a tube of glue.  According to a government survey, more than 5,000 children are living on the streets of Casablanca alone.  Almost all of them are glue addicts.

Information About Street Children - Morocco [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for North Africa and the Middle East on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 3-6 March 2004, Cairo, Egypt

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

[accessed 22 June 2011]

The structure of the Moroccan family has changed due to increasing poverty.  Parents are unable to fulfill their traditional role as providers, and children increasingly become the main sources of revenue in large families.  With his traditional authority weakened, the father turns to violence as an expression of his status and physical punishment becomes more common.  Families also disintegrate and break up due to the divorce or disappearance of the father (leaving the mother and children alone); re-marriage of one of the parents; alcoholism and drug abuse; and maternal prostitution.  Single mothers remain the outcasts of society, and are unable to garner support from eroding communitarian solidarity.

Street Life

BBC World Service, 1st July 2000

[accessed 21 February 2011]

A motley crew of abandoned children, runaway child maids, and the rejects of broken homes. Children as young as six live a life on the run from police hunting for children to dump in borstals run by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Morocco's Failure To Provide Care And Protection

Human Rights Watch Report, NOWHERE TO TURN: State Abuses of Unaccompanied Migrant Children by Spain and Morocco, May 2002 -- Vol.14, No. 4 (D)

[accessed 22 June 2011]

Morocco's failure to fulfill its obligations to ensure children the protection and care necessary for their well being exposes unaccompanied child migrants to abuses prior to their departure and following their return. In many cases it has also contributed to the pressures some children feel to undertake the dangers of clandestine migration

Child prostitution and the spread of AIDS

Kandela, Lancet, 9 Dec 2000

[access date unavailable]

[accessed 25 December 2016]

In Morocco, child prostitution is a large and growing problem and the government is being forced to address the situation. Although legislation is in place to punish people convicted of sexual abuse of children, the rate of prostitution is still high. Joint research studies by the government and the UN have revealed that up to 48% of street children have been sexually abused, often in return for lodging and food. In a study conducted in 1995 by the Moroccan AIDS Service Organization, it was found that most prostitutes were not aware of the risks of AIDS and did not know how to negotiate safer sex with clients. It also indicated that many prostitutes had precarious living conditions due to economic dependence and had many sexual partners. Visitors and tourists play a significant part in this trade. Tourism continues to provide clients for child prostitutes, many of whom are uneducated about AIDS.

Morocco's Street Children

Wafa Bennani, Reuters, Casablanca, 24 September 1996

[accessed 22 June 2011]

As night empties the streets around Morocco's main port of Casablanca, groups of young boys sleep on fishing nets, on cartons in the wholesale market or in doorways.  And in what children's association president Najat M'jid calls Morocco's...growing sex trade, six or seven young girls share small rooms in the teeming city, waiting for ``clients.''  Suspicious, afraid and often deeply ashamed, the children aged between 12 and 18 come from families with difficult backgrounds -- usually divorced parents with many children.

``About 1,000 children live in the streets of Casablanca alone,'' she said.

Morocco Has 10,000 To 14,000 Street Children

Economics, Morocco, December 29, 1999

[accessed 18 January 2017]

Street children in Morocco number between 10,000 and 14,000, showed a study by the Moroccan secretariat of state in charge of social protection, family and childhood.  Said Saadi, secretary of state in charge of social protection, family and childhood, imputed the rise in the number of street children to poverty, ignorance and the deterioration of family bonds.

Morocco's Experience In Handling Street Children Issue Expounded In Cairo

[Last access date unavailable]

Morocco's experience with street children was studied at a regional workshop, organized in Cairo by the Arab Childhood and Development Council.  The street children issue hits mainly large and medium cities.

Perilous lives of runaways Europe does not want - Street Children Who Flee Morocco Face Beatings And Abuse In Spanish Enclave

Giles Tremlett, The Guardian, Ceuta, 15 June 2001

[accessed 22 June 2011]

Ismael, just 14 years old, emerged from behind the breakwater in the Spanish port of Ceuta with blood running from his nose, half a dozen fresh cuts on his arm and a purple bruise swelling up on his elbow.  "They have just beaten me up and taken all my money. When the police came they also hit me," he said, glancing nervously towards where his attackers had run away.

Spotlight on DARNA, Morocco

Community-based Innovations to Reduce Child Labor through Education CIRCLE, June 2005

[accessed 22 June 2011]

In Morocco, CIRCLE partner DARNA is working with one of the most difficult target groups among child labourers: street children. They have no stable homes, support themselves by begging, petty trade, or crime, and often sniff glue. Many have never gone to school or participated in any organized program with adult leadership. Despite the many challenges related to this target group, DARNA has been able to help many youths with its exceptional pedagogy and integrated approaches. With CIRCLE, they are building a proactive and positive community of street-boys-turned-farm-students. Their strategy includes providing basic education, useful job skills, and psychosocial rehabilitation.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Morocco",, [accessed <date>]