Tortured And Forcibly Tattooed Moroccan Teen Speaks Out
Teen sparks outcry in Morocco.
Khadija is a 17-year-old girl who has allegedly been kidnapped, raped and tattooed by a group of men in Morocco.
The young girl appeared on local television last week covered in crude tattoos and cigarette burns all over her arms. Some of the markings, which include swastikas, was the work of men who abducted her from a relatives house and kept her captive for two months, torturing and attacking her.
Violence against women is widespread in Morocco but largely ignored, has finally sparked a public outcry. People are taking it to social media to demand justice and started a petition campaign invoking the teenager’s name: “We are all Khadija.”
Khadija's distraught mother stated that she fainted when she saw her daughter’s desecrated body when it was dropped off at her home by two strange men. She asked if her little girl would ever be the daughter she knew.
“I was caught off guard when those criminals brought my daughter and I saw her in this condition. I fainted… I collapsed, seeing her like that, the tattoos, the burns, her honor lost,” her mother said.
Sexual abuse in this Muslim nation has a negative stigma and the girls parents initially refused to report her case to authorities. Rape victims in Morocco often face backlash in a conservative society where they are often blamed for their ordeals.
“But she insisted,” her mother said. “She picked up the family records and just went to the gendarmes. I followed her.”
During an online video with Morocco's Chouf TV last week, Khadia told that her kidnappers “would assault me one by one,” burned her with cigarettes and didn’t feed her or let her shower. The teen said that two men kidnapped her at knife-point while 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. They also drugged her that would knock her out for days at a time.
This has sparked calls for an end to a culture that turns a blind eye to sexual assault and violence against women, with nearly 75,000 signing the petition urging action.
But not everyone is in favour of Khadija. Some of the relatives of the suspects have come forward to shame and cast doubt on her character. Stating that she is a prostitute, known for associating with drug users, smokes and drinks alcohol, which is illegal in Morocco.
Abdelwahed Saadi, a social worker and neighbor of the teen’s family said no circumstances should excuse the alleged assault. “This girl is a minor. She says she has been abused and raped. Her words must be taken seriously.”
“Today, Khadija smiles again, her health is stable,” her father said. “Thanks to the support of the associations and the people who came to see us, she regained hope.”
Twelve suspects are in custody in the alleged kidnapping and rape, and three are still at large. An investigation and hearing will be scheduled for Sept.6.
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