Family is extremely important to Moroccans. The bedrock of life, real Moroccan family is extremely close and united.
Even today, very often, marriages take place between cousins and second cousins in Morocco, bringing family even closer. This dates back to tribal times, where many Moroccans lived in small community groups of small Moroccan properties clustered together. Allegiances were to family and were strengthened by inter-family marriage.
Family gatherings are a frequent event. Real Moroccans don't need an excuse for an impromptu party, and front doors are often left open, so it's not unusual for extended family to be in and out at all hours of the day and night. On Fridays (Moroccan's holy day), many families gather together in one of the families properties to eat and socialize. Part of the closeness of Moroccan family also comes from the Islamic belief that one should never turn away someone who is hungry or needs a place to sleep â€“ so quite often one part of a family will descend on the property of another family element to stay â€“ sometimes for months at a time. It is the duty of the host to feed and take care of their guests for as long as the guest decrees. Of course, at special occasions such as the Eids (there are two each year - Eid el Kebir and Eid al Fitr), the whole family gathers to celebrate, just as western families do for events such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Moroccan families are often extremely large. The fertility rate for Morocco is 2.23 children to every female â€“ even 10-12 siblings in a family are not uncommon. When you consider that it is lawful (but these days quite rare) for men to take up to four wives, then large numbers of siblings is perhaps less surprising. Moroccan children are expected to care for ageing parents and grandparents, and so financially, the more children a woman has, the better the retirement prospects are for her and the children's father.
Moroccan's don't call married-in relatives 'uncles' and 'aunties' etc like we do. Instead, these are 'the husband of my aunt' or 'the wife of my uncle'.
In marriage, Moroccan women do not take the name of their husbands. They retain their own name, although any children born from the marriage will take the surname of their father.
New family law:
In 2004, a 'Moudawana' â€“ a family law â€“ was brought in to improve the rights of Moroccan women. Highlights included that a divorce had to be processed through the legal courts â€“ before, a man could repudiate his wife, simply by repeating divorce decree to her three times and have this decree sanctioned by an Imam (religious teacher). Women were granted the ability to request a divorce, which was previously not the case. The age of marriage was raised from 15 to 18, and custody of children also ensured that the seeker was able to keep the family home.
While polygamy is still technically possible under the Moudawana, it is only permitted if the first wife agrees to it and the man can prove he can take equally good care of all/both of his wives. For a Muslim country, these rights and amendments are extremely progressive, and saw Morocco receive international praise for its efforts, which were led by King Mohammed VI.
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