Hundreds of Moroccans mobilize for ‘tortured, raped’ teenage girl

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Hundreds of Moroccans have signed a petition urging authorities to provide urgent medical and psychological care to a teenage girl who says she was gang-raped.

Khadija Okkarou, in a video posted online Tuesday, said she was abducted in mid-June outside the home of a relative in central Morocco by young men alleged to belong to a "dangerous gang".

"They held me for about two months, and raped and tortured me," the 17-year-old said, showing what appeared to be scars from cigarette burns and tattoos carved into parts of her body.

"I will never forgive them. They have destroyed me," she said.

Her testimony has sparked anger in Morocco with social media users launching the "we are all Khadija" hashtag and a petition urging King Mohammed VI to provide her with medical and psychological care.

More than 3,400 people had signed the petition by Sunday night.

The girl’s father, Mohammed Okkarou, said three suspects had been arrested on Saturday in connection with her abduction and that a trial was set to begin on September 6.

Naima Ouahli, of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, told AFP that a total of 12 suspects had been rounded up.

Moroccan authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Sexual harassment is commonplace in Morocco, despite the adoption of a new constitution in 2011 that enshrines gender equality and urges the state to promote it.

And in January 2014, Morocco scrapped a controversial law that allowed child rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims

Last year 1,600 cases of rape were heard by Moroccan courts, twice as many as previous years.

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