Five years earlier than our trip, our Moroccan guide was thirty-four years old and single when his brother suggested that it was time for the guide to get married. The brother had someone in mind. The guide was told that he could glimpse the woman at a particular time and location, and he went there several times, but she, in spite of the prediction, did not pass by. Finally, the brother brought him to the woman’s house. The guide and the woman, according to the guide, each asked a “few” questions of the other. Only after this meeting, did the guide tell his parents about the woman. The parents were surprised that he had met her without them knowing—apparently a breach of protocol. A short while later, the guide, his parents, and his sisters went to meet the woman and her family. After this meeting, the two got engaged and were married six months later.
This courtship seems strange from a western viewpoint, but the way the guide recounted it, it must not be unusual in Morocco. And as far as I could tell, the marriage has been successful. My only doubt about that is that the guide seemed a bit intimidated by his wife.
After four years of marriage, the couple had a son. The guide is very proud of the boy and said that he would like one more child.
The guide more than once told us that women have advanced much in Moroccan society. When he did so, I always thought it would be informative to get a Moroccan woman’s perspective on their situation.
Women are allowed the opportunity for an education; our guide’s wife has a college degree, having studied physics and architecture. The guide said that she would like to work, but it is hard to find an appropriate job. He said that the Moroccan unemployment rate is ten percent overall, and jobs for educated people using their training are often scarce.
Moroccan public education is free through college. Universities have a hierarchy with some harder to get into than others. University admission is determined by a graduation test from the equivalent of our high school. Our guide readily admitted that he had not done as well on that examination as others and did not get into the most selective school. Instead of studying medicine, he studied English.
Morocco has compulsory education from the ages of six through fifteen for both boys and girls, but it has not been completely successful. There is much absenteeism from the schools, especially in the countryside, and the country still has an illiteracy problem.
Morocco has recently reinstituted mandatory military service, and this produces some equality between men and women since both are conscripted. The guide did not say why the draft had been abandoned a generation ago, but it did not exist when he was of military age, and, as a result, he did not serve in the military. Conscription does not seem to have been reinstituted because Morocco feels an imminent foreign threat. Instead, the guide said that the major goal of the draft is to instill nationalism, but he did not elaborate on why that had become necessary.
Hearing this bit about Moroccan conscription, I thought about the United States draft. It ended nearly fifty years ago, and I wondered if American patriotism had waned or waxed since then; whether the country was more or less warlike; whether our nation was more or less safe; whether young people were better or worse trained for jobs. I wondered what the chances are that conscription would ever be reinstituted here. If so, how would our country be affected if both men and women were subject to a draft? I wondered if we might have mandatory, universal national service of which the military would be one option. There must be some good literature of such topics, but I don’t know about it. If you do, let me know, for these are subjects worth exploring.