'The system failed to protect us': Moroccan women outraged at mass sex assault at L'Boulevard Rap festival
"I still feel their bodies pushing against mine," Salma, a Moroccan 20-year-old student who witnessed last's week mass sexual assault at Casablanca's L'Boulevard Festival last Friday, described to The New Arab.
Late on Friday, amid a much-awaited free performance of Morocco's A-list rappers, tens of armed young men attacked the tens of thousands of audience members at RUC Stadium in Casablanca.
In a purge-like scenario, the "gang" attacked the audience randomly using belts, knives and batons. The chaos intensified as people started pushing toward the closed exits.
"If you fell you were dead; everyone was trying to save their lives," Mohsin, a 22-year-old Moroccan student, said to The New Arab.
The chaos lasted for nearly two hours before people were evacuated said witnesses.
Several accounts of sexual assault and attempts of rape flooded social media, as the Moroccan public watched in shock.
"They were trying to sexually assault me. When my friend tried to stop them they started beating him badly," Salma added in her statement to The New Arab.
During the first minutes of the chaos, rappers carried out their performances unaware of what was happening to the audience.
The events ended with no fatalities, but with several injuries and hundreds of traumatising stories by women who experienced sexual assaults.
L'Boulevard team has issued an apology on its social media pages and condemned "the vandalism acts, which do not honour the spirit of the festival,". They promised an investigation into the sexual assault allegations.
However, despite Friday's events, L'boulevard decided to continue its shows during the weekend, a step widely criticised.
Meanwhile, Casablanca's police denied Monday the sexual assault allegations, saying, "no rape case was registred at the city's hospitals or police stations."
They also announced that twenty were arrested at the festival for "drinking alcohol in public, using drugs, and theft." Only two of the arrested were charged with "beating and injuring."
The investigation is still ongoing, according to the police's statement.
As many questions remain unanswered about what happened that Friday, the Moroccan public blamed the events mainly on lack of security and the misogynist mentality prompted by the sexist lyrics in rap songs.
Unpopular opinion: rap reinforces typical stereotypes towards women while over sexualizing them. Same with reggaeton. These music genres are a product of the patriarchy. I’m not saying I don’t listen to it but I’m just saying let’s self reflect, it’s always p*ssy, b*tches & h*es https://t.co/m9Nna4wMBe— ياسمينة (she/her) (@yasbenslimane) October 1, 2022
Friday's tragedy also returned the spotlight to women's safety in public places in Morocco.
Many Moroccan women took to social media to voice the terror they experience when attending festivals, going out at night, or just by "living in Morocco."
"People have been raped, sexually abused, brutally injured (broken bones, permanent loss of sight and literal body parts) valuables stolen… you can blame the perpetrators all you want but this is also a matter of national security because once again the system failed to protect us," tweeted a Moroccan social media user.
Moroccan outlaws and 7achak, two leading Moroccan digital feminists platforms, have started gathering statements from Friday's victims and are pushing for a serious investigation.