Moroccan women denounce the difficulties related to housing in Spain

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Meriem, Afaf and Karima in the streets of Bilbao / Ph. Oskar González

More than 30 women in the city of Bilbao (northern Spain) have denounced the difficulties they face when looking for real estate for rent, according to the regional newspaper Deia. The Maghreb association Ahizpatasuna echoed their problems by organizing several rallies. The next one is scheduled for March 21st.

Afaf, Meriem and Karima are among the 8,151 women in the Basque Country living in Bilbao. Meriem, 40, recalls her failing attempts during her interviews with real estate agents. «You are Moroccan. Sorry, but the owners do not want to rent their apartments to people like you», she said.

Before settling in Bilbao, Meriem lived in Murcia (southeast). After her divorce, she decided to leave for the Basque Country where, apparently, she would live better. The problems began when the woman worked for - an elderly person who was also living there – and who died later. «I have a law degree from Morocco. We are respectful women and we respect the law, but here we are marginalized (...) when the woman I was caring for died, I had trouble finding housing. The real estate agencies refused my file», says Meriem.

With her son, she now lives in an apartment in the neighborhood of Santutxu, although again, this solution is temporary: «The owner told me that he could not renew my contract and that I had to look for another place».

A situation that neither she nor her compatriots understand. «We want to know why. What am I going to do ? Stay with my son in the street ? We even have trouble getting citizenship. To have a residence permit, we waited for fifteen years».

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