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Anger Erupts in Morocco as Minor Allegedly Tortured, Gang-Raped

In Morocco, 17-year-old ‘Khadija’ claims that she was repeatedly assaulted, gang-raped and tattooed for two months.

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Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

A 17-year-old Moroccan girl told police she was gang-raped, forcibly tattooed and held against her will for two months. Her lawyer says that authorities have arrested 12 suspects in the case that's sparking a public outcry over women's rights and sexual abuse in Morocco.

The government has so far declined to comment on the girl's harrowing account.

Local police confirmed to The Associated Press that there have been arrests in the case, but wouldn't say how many or give details.

Brahim Hashane, a member of a group of volunteer lawyers who are pressing her case, said an examining judge has ordered investigations into allegations of kidnapping, rape and abuse.

He told the AP that among the 15 people suspected in the case, 12 are in custody and three are still on the run.

He added that the judge has scheduled a first hearing in the case for next week.

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In an online video interview with Morocco's Chou TV posted last week, the girl alleged that her kidnappers "would assault me one by one," burned her and didn't feed her or let her shower.

She appeared to have scars from cigarette burns on her hands.

They tattooed my arms, I don’t remember the day they tattooed me because when I woke up in the morning I found that my arms were swollen and they hurt me
Survivor

The girl alleged that two men kidnapped her at knife-point when she was visiting her aunt during the May-June holy month of Ramadan, before selling her to other men in exchange for money or drugs.

She said her captors gave her drugs that knocked her out for days at a time.

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Lawyers, activists and her parents are now raising funds to press her case and for medical treatment.

Abdelwahed Saadi, a social worker and neighbour of the girl's family in the central Morocco town of Ouled Ayad, said her father reported her missing but authorities did not launch an investigation.

Saadi launched a petition online voicing indignation against the attack and has collected more than 69,000 signatures.

The president of the Moroccan Association for the Defense of Human Rights, cautioned that the girl's account must be viewed with some skepticism.

In a phone interview, he alleged that the girl was known in the town for associating herself with drug users.

A mother of two of the alleged kidnappers told Sultana, a women's news website, that the girl fled home with her parents' knowledge and often came to her house to see her two sons now in custody.

The mother said they repeatedly chased the girl away.

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Violence against Moroccan women remains widespread and a largely taboo subject in a country that is seen as a haven of moderate Islam and relative prosperity in North Africa.

In February, parliament passed a long-sought law on combating violence against women, recognising some forms of abuse for the first time and criminalising some forms of domestic violence.

But critics say it didn't go nearly far enough.

(With inputs from AP)

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Topics:  Rape   Molestation   Islam 

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