"From one day to the other you have nothing more. No husband, no money, no papers, no identity and no future," says Laila, who with help from Stichting Steun Remigranten (SSR, help center for remigrants) can come back to the Netherlands.
Last year there were 40 reports of women, with and without children, that were left behind in Morocco. The most during the vacation period. Laila (28) was one of them. In Berkane, in the Moroccan branch of SSR, they're waiting for a new wave.
"I trusted him," says Laila. "We went on vacation in Morocco, he brought me to my parents, he continued on to his parent. When I called him up to ask if he could come collect me he was in Spain. On the way home."
And so was an exported import-bride. "I was blind. Women should be aware. I was an independent woman, but just like that married that man. Without knowing him, without one good talk. We would get married, have children. That idea, that routine, was also in my system. We women also have a head. A head to think with."
She married her cousin from the Netherlands in 2005. Her uncle and aunt are "good people" therefore her son would also be a good match. He was ten years older, but that didn't matter. And he had already been married, but that was just to get the right papers after his years of illegality.
It was a dream marriage, for a month. But the promised land soon became a prison. "I thought: he's been living for years in the Netherlands, and would be open and modern. But he truly had the old mentality, the ideas of grandfather and grandmother. The woman belongs in the kitchen or she must clean. I had to thank him for everything: for money, for food and drink. He sat next to me when I called my parents, he opened my mail, he went with me to the doctor."
It did not stop with psychological terror. Laila was also regularly mistreated. "He once hit me so hard that I couldn't sit for a week. There was always fighting. But I couldn't notify anybody, I didn't know anyone, couldn't have contact with anyone.
Dumped like a dog in the forest, since the animal didn't fit in with the vacation plans of the boss. That's how she felt. "I should naturally be happy that I'm done with him, but at first I was especially very angry. He had lied, hit, belittled, robbed and dumped me. And all unpunished. He went back nicely to the Netherlands to begin again, but what should I do?"
the former student of France and Arabic literature had resigned her good administrative job for him. On her return it wasn't as easy to find another one. She was dependent on her family and the subject of derision and gloating: the one who went to find her luck and came back deeply unhappy.
SSR arranged her return. She got a place in a woman's shelter where she stayed 5 months, the fear of her ex slowly declined and her self-confidence increased. "I'm learning the language, I will soon start training, have my own house since recently and and an independent permit with my own name on it." She sounds enthusiastic, proud, determined to make something of herself. "I got so much help, now I want to give. The Netherlands first felt like a prison. But now I am free."
Source: Trouw (Dutch)
See also: Netherlands: Women left behind in Morocco