Men sentenced in teen gang rape that outraged Morocco

RABAT (AFP) - Eleven men accused of kidnapping and gang raping a Moroccan teenager have been each sentenced to 20 years in prison, the victim's lawyer said on Wednesday (Sept 22), in a case that stirred national outrage.

Khadija Okkarou, then 17, went public about the abuse in a video posted online in 2018. It was a rare move in the conservative North African country.

She said members of a "dangerous gang" had kidnapped and held her prisoner for two months, raping and torturing her.

The video also showed horrific scars allegedly from cigarette burns and tattoos carved into parts of her body.

Okkarou's lawyer, Ibrahim Hachane, told AFP that the criminal chamber of the appeal court in the central town of Beni Mellal found the accused guilty on various charges including rape, and kidnapping and forcible confinement.

Two other accused were sentenced to two years' prison and one year suspended, respectively, he added.

Hachane said the attackers were also fined 200,000 dirhams (S$30,000).

But to him, the verdicts seemed "not tough", since a trafficking charge can be punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

He said he would appeal.

"The victim 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 regularly raise the alarm about endemic violence against women.

In 2018, a law to combat the abuse took effect, for the first time giving women in Morocco legal protection from "acts considered forms of harassment, aggression, sexual exploitation or ill treatment".

The new law also paved the way for victims of violence to be offered support.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.