The Educated ProstituteJuly 1, 2008
On that morning, I was heading to the newspaper with no new stories or article projects in mind when my editor-in-chief called me to ask whether I’ll be interested in interviewing a very special person, and to publish her memories on a daily basis in the newspaper. This very special person was a young student who became a professional prostitute. The editor-in-chief of course was only interested in raising the sales, because the golden rule in journalism is that “When there is no news, you should create the news”. And what’s better than dealing with one of the society’s prime taboos to make the news. I only had one answer to give: I’ll do it!
Morocco has the reputation of having a significant number of young prostitutes. Maybe this stereotype other Middle Eastern countries have about us is a bit exaggerated, but still, Morocco has very well structured prostitution webs, which transform innocent girls to mighty night creatures, and even export them to work outside the country. What most people ignore is that prostitution was a very prosperous activity in pre-Islamic Morocco. Native Berber tribes used to set tents on the roads after the harvest season to offer “entertainment” to peasants after a year of hard work. Prostitution then, was a social service which allowed money circulation among all the tribe’s members. Islam couldn’t change much in the anthropological habits of local people. In my opinion, the high prostitution rates among young Moroccan girls can be explained by the extreme openness to the west and the cultural predisposition to this kind of activities.
For me it was very difficult to write about the subject. Should I feel pity or contempt, compassion or disgust towards this young girl with a university degree who decided to sell her body to make a living? I’ve just decided to play the role of the objective pen, which describes what it hears and sees without the interference of any subjective feelings. Though, it was hard not to make a comparison between me and her. We were both Moroccan girls, born in the same year, listening to the same music, and with university degrees. Yet, each of us chose a different path, or maybe that path chose her.
Her name was Aïcha. She was very blond, very tall, and very beautiful, the kind of the 1960s American films’ beauty. Aïcha had to move after high school from her small town called Lhajeb to study English Literature in Meknes’ college. “My parents didn’t prepare me to live alone in the city. I come from a poor background where talking about sex is a taboo”, she told me while gazing at the horizon. In the girls’ dorms, Aïcha learned how to dress, to put on make-up, and to talk like a woman. It is also in the university dorms that she was tempted to make some pocket money to pay for the pretty clothes which can make her look like city girls. The first step to the abyss was going out incognito with older men who invited her to good restaurants, and make her discover her charms and feminity. The deadly stab was when she discovered that she had to pay with her body for the few bills to realize her late adolescence fantasies.
Once Aïcha graduated, it was difficult to leave her well-paid night life for miserable desk work or to abandon the lights of the big city for a small house in Lhajeb. She told me with a bitter voice “When I was studying it was just to make pocket money. I didn’t realize that I am a prostitute until it became my full-time job after graduating”. Aïcha is still now living in the city and working as a prostitute to send money to her family and pay for her charges. Her education and beauty make very rich and well-known men from over the world pay for her services. After filling four, 120-minute tapes and finishing the interview, the young girl looked straight into my eyes and said “I fast every Ramadan and pray five times a day for Allah to forgive me, but when the night comes I realize that I have to go work for the money.”
Today, whenever I drive across the girls’ dorms of the university, I wonder how many Aïchas are there waiting to be tempted by the big city’s illusive and misleading lights? How many would resist and how many would fall?