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Mass outcry after Moroccan teenager 'gang raped and tattooed with swastikas'

Over 25,000 people have signed petition urging Moroccan authorities to provide medical and psychological care to abused teenager

Bel Trew
Jerusalem
Wednesday 29 August 2018 09:27 BST
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Mass outcry after Moroccan teenager 'gang raped and tattooed with swastikas'

A teenager in Morocco said she was held for two months and gang raped by men who forcibly tattooed swastikas over her body, sparking uproar in the country.

The 17-year-old, identified only as Khadija, appeared in an interview on local TV network Chouf last week, prompting outrage and calls for Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to intervene and help.

In the footage, crude tattoos of the Nazi symbol, expletives, names and drawings are shown etched into her skin, alongside cigarette burns and bruises.

She told the network she had been held and repeatedly raped for two months by over a dozen men after being kidnapped from a relative’s home in Oulad Ayad town, in central Morocco.

“During the month of Ramadan, I went to spend a week with my aunt. I was at the door of the home of my aunt and a group of men kidnapped me and took me to an empty lot that I did not know,” she told the network.

“They held me for about two months, and raped and tortured me … I will never forgive them. They have destroyed me,” she added.

She said that she tried to run away several times but that they caught and beat her.

Khadija shows the cigarette burns and tattoos over her body after being held by a gang of rapists (choufTV)

“They are criminals who did not give me food or drink and did not allow me to wash,” she added.

After two months, her father allegedly struck a deal where they agreed to release her if he promised not to tell the police. She said she was driven home on a motorcycle and dumped outside her house.

Horrified by her ordeal, hundreds have launched online protests demanding the perpetrators be punished and that the authorities better protect women. Others have taken to social media to post about her plight under the hashtags – “Justice for Khadija” and “We are all Khadija”.

Meanwhile, over 25,000 have signed a petition urging King Mohammed VI to provide the girl with psychological and medical care.

“During her captivity, she was subjected to every torture imaginable: she was repeatedly raped by 15 men, beaten, deprived of food and basic sanitary needs, and had her body forcibly tattooed by her captors,” the petition reads.

The teenager was tattooed with Nazi symbols, expletives and names (aljarida24)

“We hope to… voice our indignation and outrage for what happened to this young girl, and also to give her emotional support to rebuild her life and financial support to remove the tattoos,” it added.

Naima Ouahli, of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, told AFP that a total of 12 suspects had been rounded up. The first hearing is due to take place at Beni Mellal court, where the village is located, on 6 September.

Sexual harassment, violence and abuse of women is rife in Morocco. Last year 1,600 cases of rape were heard by Moroccan courts, twice as many as previous years. Nearly two-thirds of women have experienced some form of abuse, according to a 2009 national survey.

Women shown how to hide signs of domestic violence by state TV in Morocco

In March of this year, a Moroccan man was arrested after a horrific video emerged showing him wrestling a young girl to the ground and stripping her.

Last August, mass protests were held when another video emerged showing the aggressive sexual assault of a young woman with learning difficulties by a group of teenagers on a bus.

The state has tried to curb the violence. In February it adopted of a new law criminalising forms of domestic violence, and established protection for survivors.

In January 2014 Morocco also scrapped controversial legislation that allowed child rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims. Several other countries, including Tunisia, followed suit.

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