Thousands have signed a petition to Morocco’s king in support of a rape survivor. Despite a new law to tackle violence against women, rights groups say few survivors “will be able to get protection from their abusers.”
As of Monday afternoon, more than 15,000 people had signed a petition to Moroccan King Mohammed VI to provide support for a young woman who was tortured and held captive for two months.
“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,” petition organizers wrote.
The 17-year-old told the Moroccan broadcaster Chouf TV that she was kidnapped in June and held for two months by a gang of men in Oulad Ayad, a small town about 150 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of Marrakesh.
‘I want justice’
During her captivity, men would visit the house where she was held and pay the kidnappers to rape her, she said. “They didn’t give me food or drink,” she said, “and I was not even allowed to take a shower.”
“I want justice to be done and (for them) to pay for what they have done to me,” she added, according to the website Morocco World News.
At least 12 people have been arrested in connection with the case, Naima Ouahli, of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, told the AFP news agency.
Activists have pushed for more rights and stronger punishments to deter sexual violence against women following several high-profile cases over the past year.
More than 50 percent of Moroccan women have been subjected to violence in some form, according to a report by the country’s National Observatory on Violence Against Women. Those under the age of 30 and without paid work are the most vulnerable, Morocco’s national security body reported.
“Few women will be able to get protection from their abusers under this law, as it requires a prosecution and a conviction of their abusers — and yet, little is provided in the law to set out duties of authorities to arrest, prosecute and convict abusers,” Rothna Begum, Middle East and North Africa women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.