graphic artists in the arab countries

Zainab Fasiki: «Drawing to free Moroccan women»

Zainab Fasiki is a Moroccan cartoonist who tries to make women free with her comics. We interviewed her at the "Internazionale" Festival in Ferrara

«Illustrations to defend women's rights». Zainab Fasiki has a clear goal of what has become her job despite everything and everyone around her who said it could not be. Because she is a 24-year-old woman and comes from a Muslim country. She is a cartoonist, mechanical engineer and Moroccan feminist. We met her at the International Festival in Ferrara.

«I started drawing when I was four and I always did it, then at school after graduation I chose to study mechanical engineering at the University. Here I began to see situations of discrimination on the part of fellow students and professors. During internships I was always mistreated and underestimated. For them a person like me with my appearance, my clothes, my makeup could not be able to design a car, instead I had excellent marks. I resumed drawing when I was 19 to relax and I did a job ".

It was not only the University, but also the family who did not say it. The only female and last of six brothers was always controlled. They told her not to go out because someone could rape her, but also because they feared for the family's reputation. "I was always in my room drawing alone and drawing myself naked. From there everything started, my form of resistance because nudity in Islamic countries is a big taboo ".

Her publications are international, even though she has now returned to work in Casablanca too, "rubbing" her words, of what people think. In Morocco she does not leave home, the risks are too many and the network brings back the hatred of many for her way of designing and laughing at sexuality in the country. What fights are the stereotypes of virginity necessary for marriage, the forbidden miniskirt, the nudity to hide. "We must always be hidden waiting for the man of our life".

Hshouma is her latest project, all in black and white to make no distinctions through the color of the skin. The word in Arabic gathers the full range of meanings of the forbidden, the embarrassing, the shameful. "In these cartoons, women have no eyes because I see women as statues in my society and I want to free them. I want them to be free human beings. "

Zainab reports that there have been changes for women in her country especially in the workplace, but at the time of marriage, men seek a woman to cook. She adds, however: "It is true that the situation is better for women than Saudi Arabia, but it was mainly the media that created this image of a freer country. If you are a Moroccan woman, this freedom is not real ". To her they have said several times that it destroys the image of her country, her family does not accept what she does, if she goes out on the street she is immediately harassed.

For the cartoonist the situation in Morocco has worsened compared to the past. "In the Sixties and Seventies there was more freedom seen from the photos of my mother at the time and from the clothes she wore, now the Islamic component of the government is much stronger". But above all, women attack it. «I am a bad example for them and to attack me is a good thing, a positive action in the eyes of God».

She says that the violence is often reported, even with videos on social media, but then she returns to the stereotype of the guilty woman because she held a certain attitude or dressed in a certain way. "The victims are accused and instead of accusing the rapists. Women should have the right to dress as they want and return at any time. "

What do you need to change? Zainab Fasiki has no doubt that we should start from education. "The school system first of all because no one educates to respect women and equality between men and women, let alone that little sex education that is done, all in one sense without ever touching issues such as homosexuality and trans sexuality. The same applies to parents who do not make their children aware of these disparities ".

She posted her drawings on social networks, earning followers, and then was contacted by customers who wanted her designs. For the past two years she has been a freelancer and lives off her career as a cartoonist. «After graduation I decided to live my dream, to make drawing my work».

In Morocco, she explains, "there is censorship on sensitive issues such as monarchy and religion". It's completely legal to draw naked women, as you do. «It is culture and traditions that create blocks. I can draw the female nude, but no one in Morocco would publish it or expose it to an exhibition. "