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MOROCCO : Eleven jailed 20 years for Khadija rape case

A MOROCCO court has handed down 20-year prison sentences to 11 men found guilty of brutally raping and kidnapping a 17-year-old woman in 2018, according to the prosecution lawyer.

The young woman – called Khadija – had gone public with the assault showing the scars, burns and tattoos she says the perpetrators inflicted on her.

In a 2018 interview she said she would “never forgive” her attackers.

The case caused national outrage and led to a #JusticePourKhadija campaign.

Khadija’s lawyer told the AFP news agency that he would appeal.

Ibrahim Hachane said that the verdicts handed down in Beni Mallal were “not tough” because suspects convicted of trafficking can get up to 30 years in prison.

Mr Hachane told AFP the attackers were also ordered to pay a $16,000 (£12,000) fine.

Human rights campaigners warn that attacks against women are common in Morocco, with a study showing that more than half of women had experienced violence.

In 2018 the government passed a law criminalising violence against women including a ban on forced marriage, sexual harassment in public places, and tougher penalties for certain forms of violence.

But it was criticised by Human Rights Watch for not explicitly criminalising marital rape and lacking a precise definition of domestic violence.

There are conflicting reports about the sentences of two further perpetrators. They were given two years in prison and a one-year suspended sentence respectively, according to AFP.

However local news site Article19 says both the sentences were suspended. It also cites a minor who was given a three-year prison sentence.

Khadija said she also suffered torture at the hands of the attackers, saying that what they did “destroyed” her.

“I tried to escape several times, but I was caught and beaten,” she said told Morocco’s Chouf TV in a 2018 interview.

“They tortured me, they did not give me food or drink, and they did not even allow me to take a shower.”

While many Moroccans were shocked, there was also a backlash as relatives of the suspects accused Khadija of lying in Moroccan media, accusing her of living a “depraved” lifestyle.

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