31st of August, 2010
Moroccan Madame Says Her Girls ‘Hajj’ed Up’ Before Ban
By Maha Raouf
Al-Abasseya Weekly, Rabat, Morocco
This last week I sat down with Rania Hamadouchi, a local business woman and madame, on the outskirts of Rabat, Morocco’s capital city, to discuss the recent Saudi ban against young Moroccan women going on Hajj, Islam’s sacred pilgrimage to Mecca.
“It’s alright,” she immediately tells me. “We knew about the ban something like two years before now.” She and her girls were tipped off to it by a regular Saudi client of her brothel, a prominent businessman whom she refuses to name.
“Since we knew that it was coming, we pooled our money and sent our girls to stock up on Hajj before the ban was put into place.”
She stops to pick her teeth thoughtfully, “Although, in the end that turned out badly for us; we lost some of our best girls.”
She goes on to explain that after the pilgrimage some of the girls rediscovered their religion and vowed to never return to prostitution.
“I think one of them even decided to wear the face veil,” she sighs, “It was an utter disaster.”
“But,” she brightens visibly, “I don’t have to worry about that now since my girls can’t make the pilgrimage anymore. At least not until they’re too old for me to use, anyway.”
When I bring up the pressure being placed on the Moroccan government to ban Saudi men from entering Morocco for their summer vacations she becomes obviously upset.
“God, I certainly hope they don’t do that. Those Saudi vacationers are something like 75% of our income. I don’t know what a ban like that would do to our industry.”
Finishing the mint tea she offered me I leave her pondering that grim, uncertain future.
“I wonder if we can put a spell on them,” I hear her saying to herself as I walk out the door.