Aicha, 10 years old

Aicha, 10 years old

“I’d love to go to school rather than go to work”

Police found the 10 year old child huddled on a dusty curb, her head shaved, her small frame dwarfed by an oversize apron. Her malnourished limbs were purple with burns and bruises….”

Aicha had just escaped from a home where she worked as a little maid. After five years of scrubbing floors, tending babies, washing clothes and being slapped and humiliated for her every misstep, the girl told authorities that she took to the streets. For the next four months she lived at the Centre Bennani in Casablanca, Morocco’s only detention center for girls–a multipurpose facility that offers social services and foster care, and also serves as a juvenile detention center where little girls such as Aicha live side by side with under-18 drug dealers, prostitutes, even murderers. Seventy percent of the 236 girls boarded in the facility–designed for 150–are former child maids.

At least Aicha was no longer being hurt, and she even started learning to read, play games and make friends. But then she grew ill. A brain tumour began to wither her already frail body, and she ended up in a Casablanca government hospital. Despite bedside pleas from her caregivers, she refused to offer any hints of her origins beyond her father’s first name. All they knew was that she was a Berber, and that her accent was most likely from the High Atlas Mountains.

… So on Aicha’s death certificate, she was listed–no more, no less–as “Aicha Bint Ahmed.” Aicha, daughter of Ahmed.’

Coletti, Elisabetta A “ Little Maids of Morocco” Spring 2001
International Reporting Project.

The Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.