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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Moroccan teenager speaks of her ordeal after two months in captivity

The young woman resurfaced with scars from torture

Screengrab shows, Khadija, the 17-year-old Moroccan who was kidnapped, tortured, raped and held for two months.
Screengrab shows, Khadija, the 17-year-old Moroccan who was kidnapped, tortured, raped and held for two months.

The ordeal of a 17-year-old Moroccan has shocked the country to its core after the teenager, named Khadija, recounted her experience.

In a TV interview last week, the young woman said she was abducted in front of her aunt's house in the city of Fquih Ben Saleh in June by a gang of at least 10 notoriously dangerous young men.

In her testimony Khadija recalls being held for two months, during which time she was raped and tortured by her captors.

Videos circulated on social media show traces of torture on the young woman's arms and neck – including tattoos, scars and cigarette burns. One of the tattoos appeared to be a swastika.

"I tried to escape several times, but I was caught and beaten. They tortured me, they did not give me food or drink, and they did not even allow me to take a shower," she said in a video, speaking with her head covered by a black scarf.

"I will never forgive them, they destroyed me."

In response, social media users have taken to using the hashtag #JusticePourKhadija to express their horror and call on authorities to take action. "I want justice for what they did to me," she told Moroccan station Chouf TV.

Hundreds of Moroccans have signed a petition urging authorities to provide urgent medical and psychological care for her. More than 3,400 people had signed the petition by Sunday night.

The captors released the teenager after weeks of negotiations with Khadija's family. The men and the family reached a deal – the gang would release her if Khadija's father agreed not to report them to the police.

"My father had told them to release me and he promised them to say nothing to the authorities. But it was I who told the police everything. I want justice and for them to pay for what they did to me," HuffPost cites her as saying.

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The men, including the owner of the house where Khadija was kept for two months, have been arrested.

In 2014, Morocco's parliament amended an article of the penal code that allowed rapists of underage girls to avoid prosecution by marrying their victims. This followed a string of violence against teenage girls and intensive lobbying for better protection against rape victims.

Last year, 1,600 cases of rape were heard by Moroccan courts, twice as many as previous years. Human rights groups say more needs to be done to help and protect Moroccan women.

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