Society

Huelva Gate : The ordeal of a Moroccan strawberry picker in Spain

One month ago, a Moroccan strawberry picker in Huelva lodged a complaint denouncing sexual abuse and breaking the silence of so many others. Now, more than a hundred complaints are being filed, revealing the ugly truth these workers live in. In a new account, a mother of two and a seven-month pregnant Moroccan woman shares her story with El Pais.

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The ordeal of a Moroccan strawberry picker in Spain ./Ph. Sara Rosati

The taboo was finally broken in Spain and trade unions, media and the victims are voicing their anger. On Friday, 8th of June, the Andalusia Workers Syndicate (SAT) told Yabiladi that 10 women have fled the fields where they used to work as strawberry pickers. Aged between 18 and 45, these illiterate and modest women are mostly divorced or widowed with children to care for.

José Antonio, spokesperson for SAT, told Yabiladi that they were scared. Indeed, two of them have filed a complaint last week on behalf of 130 workers against their managers and bosses in the fields over alleged sexual abuses.

Spanish newspaper El Pais was able to meet one of these women and deliver her ordeal in an article published Sunday, 10th of June.

Aicha, a mother of two who is also pregnant, told the same source how she was abused by her boss. He entered her room without asking for her permission, hold her by her arm and tried to touch her genitals, she said.

Another day, as she was heading to the shower, the same man followed her. Pushing him away, she made him understand using body language that she was pregnant and married.

He responded asking her «to practice oral or anal sex with him». Ashamed by the situation, she did not mention these details to the police, the thing she regrets now.

The fear of facing family

Aicha was embarrassed because she was thinking of her family. In Morocco, she left behind her husband and children. However, the mother says she is afraid of returning home as her family knew about her situation.

«Now, I cannot go back because my family and my husband are going to kill me. I am very scared», she explained. According to the woman, her husband recognized her in one of the photos.

The daily says the Spanish authorities have reopened cases dating back to 2015. Huelva's prosecutor, Luis Fernandez Arévalo, said that «the first complaints […] seemed serious. The women did not dare talk to the police and the civil guard had to go and locate them».

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