Qandisha Magazwine is a female collaborative webzine based in Morocco that publishes daily, largely in French and Arabic. It was established in Casablanca on November 14, 2011, by a group of women, journalists and authors, discouraged by the weak response to feminist claims made during the Arab Spring and by the lack of media support for improving the future of women. Qandisha respects universal rights and freedoms and promotes independent over collective thinking, which has been unfair to women. In its quest for dignity Qandisha hopes to walk side by side with men, to be partners in life with them.
Once we launched the zine, the excitement and freedom it generated attracted women and men, so we opened it to contributions from all people of goodwill. Qandisha aspires to be the mouthpiece of Moroccan women activists, intellectuals, and citizens to communicate their aspirations and keep abreast of relevant news. The magazine has nearly a hundred women and twenty men volunteers. We have deadlines for stories on the topic of the day, while the rest of the content is open, hence the freedom and passion that characterize the contributions.
A number of Qandisha initiatives have had a significant impact. In 2013 we wrote about a scandal involving a rape case committed by a parliamentarian who was acquitted because he denied touching the victim—she had his baby in her arms (www.qandisha.ma/2013/01/18/proces-arif-quand-la-justice-est-un-theatrede-labsurde). The case was retried following the buzz. In 2012 we called for examining rape case evidence and impressed upon the minister of justice that a victim cannot marry her rapist. A section of the law was repealed (www.qandisha.ma/2012/03/20/jai-ete-violee-temoignages). In 2011 the French consul general in Casablanca apologized within thirty-six hours after we published a complaint letter by a young woman who described the rude reception and rebuff of embassy staff when she tried to apply for a visa to France, which she explained is the normal attitude of French diplomats to Moroccans (www.qandisha.ma/2011/12/17/lettre-ouverte-a-monsieur-le-consul-de-france-a-casablanca). [End Page 246] We were hacked in 2012 after giving the floor to a young gay man for a touching letter he wrote titled “Yes, I Am Homosexual, but Not That …” (www.qandisha.ma/2012/05/29/oui-je-suishomosexuel-mais-pas-que).
Qandisha is currently developing video and audio content, including micro sidewalks, capsules, and web-based talk shows, to diversify and reach different goals. We would like to reach young people who are less interested in reading and the public that has access to the Internet but does not read. Micro sidewalks are questions on an issue posed to passersby in the street, recorded on audio or video. Capsules are short informative videos, educational or funny in style, depending on the topic. We also want to use more Moroccan colloquial (darija) rather than classical Arabic, because we have had many more hits the few times we have spoken in darija on television or radio or have written in darija. Another project taking shape is a book based on publications and testimonials from the site recalling different actions Qandisha has taken that have led to concrete changes at legislative and personal levels.
The biggest challenge for Qandisha now is to successfully win the maximum number of young women to the feminist cause. In Morocco, as in many other conservative countries, feminism has bad press. It is regarded as a betrayal of ancestral virtuous values. Without citizen involvement in this project, no change is possible. It is also essential to gain the sympathy of men supportive of women’s claims. It is thus necessary to make feminist discourse more subtle and convincing using effective modes of communication. We have meetings in schools and student clubs and participate in events like the International Student Forum (Rabat) and the International Book Fair (Casablanca). We have found that there is very little knowledge about the status of women. There is a large gap between their legal rights and what is actually possible in the society. Changing attitudes is a long...