Anger has erupted in Morocco after local media reported a 17-year-old girl was abducted, tortured and gang-raped by a criminal gang, whose members also forcibly tattooed her body.
More than 12,000 people had signed a petition by early Monday demanding the government of King Mohammed VI provide the girl with urgent medical and psychological care after a video of her testimony went viral.
In the video, which was broadcast by local TV channel Shoof, the girl said she was held captive for about two months in the town of Olad Ayad, in the central Moroccan province of Beni Mellal, where she was gang raped and burned with cigarettes and tattooed across her arms, legs, neck and back.
The girl’s father said three suspects had been arrested on Saturday in connection with her abduction and that a trial was set to begin on September 6.
“They held me for about two months, and raped and tortured me,” the 17-year-old said.
“I will never forgive them. They have destroyed me.”
According to local media, police were only made aware of the girl’s plight when she was finally released by her captors.
Moroccan authorities were not immediately available for comment.
Social media users launched the hashtag “We are all Khadija” to highlight the case and violence against women in the North African country.
According to the AFP news agency, around 1,600 cases of rape were heard by Moroccan courts last year, twice as many as previous years.