A Morrocan court has sentenced 11 men to 20 years in prison for the brutal rape and kidnapping of a 17-year-old woman named Khadija in 2018, the prosecution lawyer said.
Khadija had gone public with the assault showing the scars, burns and tattoos she says the perpetrators inflicted on her, causing national outrage and led to a #JusticePourKhadija campaign.
She vowed she would “never forgive” her attackers, when she was interviewed in 2018.
Khadija’s lawyer, Ibrahim Hachane, told AFP the attackers were also ordered to pay a US$16,000 (£12,000) fine but added he would appeal as the verdicts handed down in Beni Mallal were “not tough” because suspects convicted of trafficking can get up to 30 years in prison.
Human rights campaigners warn that attacks against women are common in Morocco, with a study showing that more than half of women had experienced violence.
In 2018 the government passed a law criminalising violence against women including a ban on forced marriage, sexual harassment in public places, and tougher penalties for certain forms of violence.
But it was criticised by Human Rights Watch for not explicitly criminalising marital rape and lacking a precise definition of domestic violence.
There are conflicting reports about the sentences of two further perpetrators. They were given two years in prison and a one-year suspended sentence respectively, according to AFP.
However, local news site Article19 says both the sentences were suspended. It also cites a minor who was given a three-year prison sentence.
Khadija said she also suffered torture at the hands of the attackers, saying that what they did “destroyed” her.
“I tried to escape several times, but I was caught and beaten,” she said told Morocco’s Chouf TV in a 2018 interview.
“They tortured me, they did not give me food or drink, and they did not even allow me to take a shower.”
While many Moroccans were shocked, there was also a backlash as relatives of the suspects accused Khadija of lying in Moroccan media, accusing her of living a “depraved” lifestyle. (Source: BBC)