Morocco protesters denounce verdict in rape of girl, 11

Morocco protesters denounce verdict in rape of girl, 11
Protesters in Morocco took to the streets to denounce shockingly lenient sentences given to three men who raped an 11-year-old girl.
2 min read
Morocco's judiciary has previously shown lenience to those convicted of sexual crimes [Getty]

Demonstrators in Morocco protested on Wednesday over the verdict in a rape case involving three men and an 11-year-old girl that has scandalised the country.

An appeal on Thursday by the victim against a March 20 appeals court ruling that sentenced one man to two years in prison and two to 18 months was likely to be postponed, at the request of the girl's lawyer.

The now 12-year-old girl from a village near Rabat was raped repeatedly over a period of months, the Jossour Forum of Moroccan Women said in a statement last month.

Morocco's penal code allows for prison terms of up to 20 years for the charges brought against the three accused, who were also ordered to pay a combined 50,000 dirhams ($4,880) in compensation.

The girl was impregnated by one of her attackers, news website Medias24 said.

About 60 protesters, mostly women, gathered in Rabat on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's hearing.

"No to the rape of young girls!" they chanted.

The case has caused an uproar in the North African country, and a petition condemning the sentences had by Wednesday amassed more than 31,000 signatures.

NGOs and the media in Morocco often sound the alarm in cases involving sexual violence against minors, calling for tougher penalities.

"It's time for justice for this girl and her child," Amina Khalid of rights group INSAF said on Wednesday.

"This kind of case should not be judged in such a lax way."

Justice Minister Abdellatif Ouahbi has said he was "shocked" by the sentences.

His comments were dismissed by the magistrates' association as "a serious attack on the independence of the judiciary", since the case is still pending before the appeals court.