"Work, b*tch, or you'll be sent back to Morocco."
That's how one Moroccan woman claims a farmer spoke to her on a daily basis when she worked in the strawberry fields in Spain. Since a bilateral labor agreement was signed between Morocco and Spain, thousands of Moroccan women have made their way to the strawberry fields to harvest the fruit that is considered Spain's "red gold." But the women have reported serious labor and sexual abuse that authorities from both countries seem to be ignoring.
Last year, 10 women
came forward with serious allegations against their employers. They claimed they were raped, abused, and denied wages and reported the crimes to the authorities in Huelva, Spain
— the epicenter of Spain's strawberry industry. Their cries for help went unanswered. Now, this year, new Moroccan migrant women crossed the Mediterranean to work in the fields of Huelva and once again they have made horrific allegations against their employers. These women left their homes and families to come to Spain for a chance to make money for a better future.
Some even took out bank loans
to pay for the visa and transport. But once they arrived, they didn't find the "good housing, free food and a decent wage" they were promised. Instead, they claim they were forced to live in dingy unsanitary accommodations, endure abuse from employers, and work for weeks without pay.
Now with the help of human rights lawyers, the women are fighting back and demanding that Spain take their claims seriously. Advocates say that if Spain refuses to investigate these very serious allegations, then it will be complicit in human trafficking.
Industry and labor officials have denied that there is any possibility that there is any real issue of abuse on a wide scale basis since they have implemented safety measures. Yet, after dozens of women have come forward, they can no longer act like any such measures are working. And to ignore their calls for help would be a shameful dereliction of duty on the part of the Spanish government.
If Spain needs Moroccan labor, then they need to protect Moroccan laborers. It's that simple. Sign the petition and demand that Spain take these women's accusations seriously and investigate.