Dubai: Eleven Moroccan men have been each sentenced to 20 years in prison for kidnapping and gang-raping a 17-year-old woman in Oulad Ayyad town in Al Faqih bin Saleh region.
The ruling was issued on Wednesday by the Moroccan Court of Appeals in the central town of Beni Mellal after it found the accused guilty on various charges including rape, kidnapping and forcible confinement.
The gang rape case stirred nationwide outrage since teenager victim Khadija Okkarou went public about the abuse in a video posted online in 2018.
In the viral video, Khadija accused a gang of kidnapping, raping and torturing her for two months. The video also showed gruesome scars - including cigarette burns and tattoos - on her body.
“They kidnapped and held me captive for two months, during which they raped and tortured me,” she said, urging women to never remain silent.
“Eleven men accused of kidnapping and gang-raping a teenager have been each sentenced to 20 years in prison, Ibrahim Hachane, the victim’s lawyer said.
He said two others were sentenced to two years in prison and one year suspended, respectively.
Hachane said the convicts were also fined $16,000 each, verdicts that seemed not enough to him as they were supposed to be convicted of human trafficking, a crime punishable to up to 30 years in jail.
He will challenge the rulings. “The victim has been severely psychologically traumatised and is still undergoing treatment and what she went through is going to be with her for the rest of her life,” the lawyer said.
Rape victims in Morocco are often subject to a double trauma as the conservative Muslim society blames them for their ordeal.
But the country’s media and rights groups always raise the alarm about violence against women.