They are known as the mule women of Melilla. Everyday they carry heavy loads across the border between the Spanish enclave and Morocco. Melilla is an important entry point for goods into North Africa – and if the women can carry them, they can be imported into Morocco duty-free.
Latifa claims her place in one of the rowdy queues made up of hundreds of women, and drops her load of 60kg (132lb) of used clothes. She has been doing this work for 24 years and will be paid three euros ($4.10 or £2.60) for transporting her bale across to Morocco. It is not work she chooses to do.
“I have family who must eat,” she explains. “I have four children, and no husband to help – I divorced him because he beat me.”
And then as the queue surges forward, Latifa disappears in a sea of merchandise.
Many of the women who work as porteadoras are divorced or separated like Latifa, single mothers providing for their families. Life is difficult for them in Morocco’s traditional society, and often this is the only work they can get. Some of them make three or four trips a day from Barrio Chino, carrying up to 80kg.
Rates of pay vary and the women complain they must give bribes to the Moroccan guards.
Is this care for the suffering? Justice? Compassion? Mercy? How does God look at this lives of these women? Pray for them today and for an end to practices that make them beasts of burden, forced to work this way to survive.
Read full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24706863