Amid anger and frustration over the case of Adnane Bouchouf, some activists in Morocco do not believe the death penalty is the right solution to end pedophilia and child abuse.
Rabat – The issue of pedophilia is a big topic of discussion among Morocco’s media, citizens, and activists after the heinous crime that sparked outrage in the country after the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Adnane Bouchouf in Tangier.
The victim of the crime was an 11-year-old boy, who was raped and murdered just a few hours after the kidnapping.
The perpetrator is a 24-year-old man, who lives just a few blocks away from the victim’s house. The crime sparked outrage, fear, and anger among families, activists, and lawyers.
The crime brought to light several discussions and debate on several problems, including the source of pedophilia, the increase of the issue, and the death penalty.
Some activists are asking for Morocco to focus on such crimes constantly, because the rape and murder case of Adnane is not the first and will not be the last.
Morocco World News interviewed several activists who are not only expressing sympathy and support for the family of the victim, but also calling for a strong legal framework to end pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Morocco.
The activists also rejected claims that pedophilia should be associated with a certain religion and ethnicity.
Omar Arbib, an activist member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH- Marrakech Branch), told MWN that the crime that took place in the city of Tangier is terrible.
“First of all, it is not just one crime, there were too many crimes at once: Kidnapping, Rape, and Murder,” Arbib said.
The AMDH activist also condemned the other arrested suspects, the criminal’s roommates, who did not file a complaint against him even if his photos and videos were viral on social networks.
“We are dealing with a dangerous act. We in AMDH are asking for a severe punishment for the perpetrator, and we are also regretting the delayed intervention to identify the suspect,” Arbib said.
He said that the photos of the perpetrator were widespread. “How could people who were living with him and those working with him stay silent?”
Arbib considersMorocco’s legal framework dealing with such crimes unable to stop possible cases.
The activist said that AMDH in Marrakech has dealt with similar cases.
“An 11-year-old girl left school to find herself kidnapped and raped in the city of Marrakech. She was taken to a place 500 kilometers away from where she lived. Rape happened and she was thrown away without mercy,” he said.
He added that the perpetrator had a criminal background for pedophilia. He had raped another 10-year-old girl and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Arbib also rejected the claims of activist Najia Adib, who tied the problem of pedophilia to Muslim and Arab countries.
Arbib argued that such issues should not be associated with religion.
He said, however, that in European countries and the West in general, there are more laws and vigilance against such crimes.
“If a suspect with pedophilia crimes happen to be free, he would be prevented from visiting any space where children exist.”
International reports have also demonstrated that pedophilia and child sex abuse crimes are not specific to particular cultures, religions, or ethnicities.
Media also published findings of studies, showing how many pedophilia crimes take place in non-Muslim countries.
In 2018, L’Express published data from an investigation by the German Catholic Church, reporting sexual abuse among thousands of children.
The study shows that 3,600 children were victims of sexual abuse by priests between 1946 and 2014.
A report from 2009 by trade union Solidarity Helping Hand found that “one child is raped in South Africa every three minutes.”
The report featured 60 countries, with scores from 0 to 100. Scores represent the weighted average of several criteria, including: environnement, legal framework, the government commitment and capacity, as well as the engagement of civil society and media. The report assigned low scores to non-Muslim countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, Nigeria, and others.
Arbib said that a victim of pedophilia should also receive necessary care, because it could lead to problems and can turn a victim to a perpetrator.
“Morocco also should set a law that criminalizes pedophilia. We sometimes hear cases of rape against minor ‘without violence,’ rape is rape whether it is with or without violence. Pedophilia should end,” he stressed.
Arbib, however, is opposed to the death penalty and does not believe that the sentence would help reduce such crimes.
Strengthen legal framework
Stephanie Willman Bordat, an international human rights lawyer and women’s rights activist, agrees that such crimes should never be tied to specific cultural or religious backgrounds.
Bordat said she does not think religion or ethnicity have a role in the prevalence of pedophilia. She said it is not scientifically valid to associate ethnicity and religion with pedophilia crimes.
The crime in Tangier was “awful…. It is normal that people have emotional reactions and are angry. We have similar reactions to gender-based violence against women.”
Bordat, however, does not believe that the death penalty is the right sentence for the crime.
“Punishment of perpetrators should be based on objectivity. It should be decided by objective people, like judges,” the lawyer underlined.
Bordat said the death penalty is against human rights and should be abolished.
“[The] state has no right to take the life of a person, and this is a fundamental right.”
Posting opinions online is not advocacy
Bordat spoke about the lack of actions and activism against crimes and prevalent issues, like pedophilia.
“Posting stuff on social media is not advocacy, and posting stuff on social networks is not participating, and posting stuff on social media will not make a change,” she said.
She said people should act to make a change, to make efforts to amend laws that need to change.
“You have to get the hell out of social media, and you have to do the hard work of engaging locally with local system people, like police, gendarmes, prosecutors,” she stressed.
She said that people should get out and ask for meetings with local authorities to understand how work is organized to combat such crimes.
Bordat sees a lack of detailed legal framework in the laws dealing with child abuse and violence against women.
Criminal laws in Morocco only say “this is the crime and it is punished by how many years of prison and that is the end of the process.”
“The real problem is that the law does not create a framework or say anything about all of the steps in the process before that gets you to the conviction. There is nothing in the law or regulations about reporting the crimes.”
Bordat also referenced a lack of means to facilitate or to encourage victims of such crimes to file reports.
Pedophilia and child abuse are real challenges for the world, including Morocco, where police and security services have made several recent arrests linked to sexual assault against minors.
Since September 11, Morocco’s police have arrested four suspects for their involvement in separate cases of rape, sexual assault, or attempted rape of a minor. Adnane Bouchouf was among the victims of one of the perpetrators arrested during the security operations.