A pregnant Moroccan teen set herself on fire last week after her 8 alleged rapists were released from prison and threatened to publish photos of the rape, reports the Moroccan Association of Human Rights.
The rapists of Khadija al-Swaidi, 16, were initially arrested by Moroccan authorities but were granted provisional release. After their release the alleged rapists approached the girl and told her they would “publish pictures of the rape” on their cell phones, unless she dropped the complaint against them, the head of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights told The Guardian.
Swaidi was so horrified by the prospect of the pictures she set herself on fire, succumbed to her wounds and died on July 28 from third degree burns all over her body. Authorities did not know Swaidi was pregnant until an autopsy was conducted.
The release of Swaidi’s rapists demonstrate one of the biggest problems for rape victims under Morocco’s judicial system. Eric Goldstein, of Human Rights Watch told the Guardian the judicial system requires “medical evidence in cases of rape or domestic violence and don’t give proper weight to the complainant’s testimony.” Goldstein elaborated, “There are statistics indicating it is a widespread phenomenon in Morocco.”
Until 2014, rapists in Morroco were allowed to dodge rape charges by marrying their victims. The law created an incentive for rapists to approach the parents of their rape victims and pressure marriage, ostensibly to spare the victim and her family from public shame.
In 2012, a 16-year-old girl killed herself after her family forced her to marry her rapist when she became pregnant. The law was reversed in 2014 after widespread outcry, but has not curbed a disturbing tide of underage rape in Morocco. The Guardian reports 80 percent of rapes in Morocco are against children between the ages of 5 and 14.
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