Oum El Banine is a Moroccan association supporting women in distress. It was created on May 7, 2001 and it is located in Agadir, Morocco. It is a small, independent, non-governmental organisation. The main aim of Oum El Banine is to support one of the most excluded groups in the Moroccan society: unmarried mothers and their children. Oum El Banine was created by Mahjouba Edbouche, a well-known name in the Moroccan society, working for 30 years to improve living conditions and rights for women and children in Morocco.
According to Moroccan law, a woman cannot legally become a mother before marriage. Sex before marriage is illegal, for both men and women, but it is often only the woman who has to face the consequences if she becomes pregnant. The man does not have to take any responsibility – at birth only the name of the mother will be registered. There are also traditions of family honour, making the situation for these women even more vulnerable. Unmarried, pregnant women are condemned by society and are often forced to leave their families. They have nowhere to go – many of them end up in the street – but some are lucky and find their way to Oum El Banine.
The association has a home where the women can live before and after giving birth and also a daycare centre where the mothers can leave their children while getting an education or working.