strawberries huelva
HARVEST: Strawberry pickers in Huelva

TRAFFICKED Moroccan women have accused the authorities of ignoring widespread exploitation and abuse in the strawberry fields of southern Spain.

‘Samira Ahmad’ has been in hiding and living on handouts with the nine other Moroccan women after they faced human trafficking and sexual assault.

Women make up a large percentage of the seasonal workforce in Andalucia and harvest 400,000 tonnes of strawberries, destined for the UK, France and Germany.

Samira, who’s name has been changed, said: “Before I left my home I was like a hero to everyone. Nobody in my village had ever had the chance to go and work in a rich country like Spain.

“But it has turned out to be the worst decision of my life.”

ORDEAL: Women faced cramped conditions and abuse

Both the Moroccan and Spanish governments have downplayed widespread reports of sexual and physical abuse of seasonal workers, despite evidence women are targeted deliberately.  

“Morocco women working as temporary workers in the field have described to us dehumanising and harsh working conditions they must endure,

“Working in permanently crouched positions with a single break of 30 minutes a day in temperatures of 40 degrees under the plastic of the greenhouses,” said Alicia Navascues of the women’s rights group Mujeres.

The women claimed to have been racially abused, denied food and forced to live in squalid shipping containers with hundreds of other workers.

Alicia said: “In Morocco they are deliberately looking for those who are cheap and vulnerable to do this work, namely rural women with young children who only understand Arabic, cannot understand their contracts written in Spanish or claim their rights.

“It is a rigged system.”

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