Monday, March 20, 2017

In Other News...

For those of you who are new around here, I lived in Morocco for two and a half years with my family when my husband worked for the Peace Corps there.  (I also wrote a book about our time living in Morocco, which you can find on  Even though my husband didn't work at the U.S. Embassy, much of our life in Africa was heavily dictated by the Embassy rules because my husband was working for a U.S. government program.  Even if we were just a bunch of hippies, two standard deviations from the Foreign Service norm.

We lived in a massive house that was built both to impress and entertain, chosen from a pool of houses pre-approved  by the Embassy.  Complete with a house staff and lots of security.  We got to use the U.S.P.S. to mail and receive packages at the Embassy.  We had diplomatic passports for travel.  Our kids went to the American School, where the kids from most of the Embassies located in Rabat went. Where the general of the Moroccan Army's kids went and the King of Morocco's niece went.  We lived in a social bubble of privilege; hobnobbing with people from all over the world wondering who was gathering intel from whom for what end.  And everyone speculated about it in whispers from the comfort of their own informal cliques, which form spontaneously when you're an expat.  

We participated in the mandatory fun of Christmas parties at the U.S. Ambassador's house and the Hail and Farewells that welcomed new arrivals to the Embassy and to say goodbye to those departing at the DCM's  (Deputy Commander of Mission) residence.  It was all part of the gig.  Mandatory fun was rarely any fun at all, but it provided lots of fodder for the bubble gossip circuit. Although, we never suspected anything as salacious as the story that hit the papers a few months ago.

The news that the DCM's husband, Labib Chammas, was convicted of sexually abusing their Moroccan cook.  I'd met him on a few occasions at some obligatory functions and always thought he was a bit weird.  But then again, I thought that about at least 50% of the population of the Embassy bubble. The expat world is a magnet for eccentrics.  However, I never expected sexual predator weird.  Which is exactly how sexual predators operate.  Covertly.

But, what is truly remarkable about this case, is an American man in a position of power (his wife was next in command at the Embassy after the Ambassador) was convicted of sexually abusing a Moroccan woman.  This in a country where women rarely receive justice for crimes of sexual abuse.   In fact, they are often victimized by their abuser and then the justice system.  Just a few years ago in 2012, a 16 year old Moroccan girl named Amina Filali was raped by a Moroccan man and her court ordered punishment for his crime was to marry him.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Rather than comply with the judge's order for her to marry her rapist, she killed herself by ingesting rat poison.

In a world full of atrocities where men often get away with crimes against women.  In a time when the world seems more divided by nationality than ever.  Where the only certainty is that injustice exists and even thrives, especially for women and those without financial means.  This time justice was served and a Moroccan woman prevailed and an American man served prison time for sexually abusing her.  An outcome that wouldn't have been likely if it was handled by the Moroccan system.

While the outcome in this case is promising, it's only one story out of millions.  And  it only leaves me with more questions.  Like, how many other women have been victims of this man or other men like him?  And how many victims are likely to endure the shame, humiliation and condemnation to speak up and be heard in the pursuit of a conviction that isn't likely to occur?   Even here in America. And how many more sexual predators are out there because sexual crimes are under reported?

The article detailing the matter in The Daily Beast can be found here.

1 comment:

Penelope said...

You explain (after 50 years) why my boyfriend, in the playgroup of King Hassan's brother, couldn't have cared less for his son by me. Fortunately, I had a family who did.


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