“We are having a funeral at home,” said a sister of one of the victims to describe the trauma the family experienced after discovering the truth.
Rabat – The serial rape cases concerning several girls in a rural area near Tangier ignited more anger amid Morocco’s recent remarkable increase of pedophilia crimes.
On Saturday, a public prosecutor in the city of Tangier announced the detention of a Quran teacher who raped several girls in Fahs-Anjra, an area located in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region in northern Morocco.
The assaults caused trauma not only for the survivors, but for their parents. They are seeking justice for their daughters who were repeatedly raped and threatened by their Quran teacher.
The 49-year-old man confessed he raped eight girls, a sister of one of the victims told the press.
Years of silent suffering
Although the rapes in northern Morocco occurred regularly for more than eight years, it was just a few days ago that the parents became aware of the criminal acts to which their daughters were long subjected.
The sister said the victims’ families learned of the incidents thanks to a neighbor who managed to persuade the girls to unveil their stories.
She said her sister went to the doctor, who confirmed that the girl was the subject of rape.
“We are having a [metaphorical] funeral at home due to what happened to my sister… the man confessed he raped eight girls,” she said with a traumatized voice.
The mother of another victim expressed sadness, saying the girls remained silent because they feared the perpetrator’s threats.
“We brought our girls to study the Quran and we did not expect such an incident,” she said.
A 2M press report said that the man had a good reputation among the inhabitants of the region, leading parents to trust him.
“We demand justice,” a mother told the press.
She said they sent their children to study with him, one of whom was aged seven.
“I demand lifetime imprisonment for the man. He kissed her in front of her friends and touched her breast. When she refuses, he punishes her. He has been doing that for seven years,” she said.
How a trusted community figure caused tragedy
Another mother of a nine-year-old girl said the teacher followed her daughter to the bathroom.
“She told me that he kissed her and touched her body several times, but I did not trust her. I thought his intention was innocent, like her father [also thought],” she said.
The daughter repeatedly complained about the man, which urged her father to intervene.
“When my husband and I told people, no one believed in us. They told us we are liars and I suffered issues with the neighbors,” she said.
In tears, another mother lamented that she sent her daughter to study with the man.
“We did not believe this could happen from someone we thought religious. My daughter did not tell me. She didn’t know what was happening to her. I insisted that she tell me if he did something to her, and she told me. When I explained that what he did is wrong, my daughter cried, asking me about her future.”
Morocco’s penal code criminalizes rape under Articles 485, 487, and 488.
Article 485 stipulates that a violent crime was committed against a child or someone under the age of 18 is punished with imprisonment for 10 to 20 years.
The article applies to rape crimes against an incapictated person, a person with special needs, or a person known for weak mental capacities.
Some reports claim that the man also raped four boys.
Further violence against children
The crimes in Fahs Anjra poured oil on the fire amid Morocco’s anger and astonishment over a kidnapping, rape, and murder in Tangier.
On September 11, authorities found the body of an 11-year-old boy buried near his house.
A 24-year-old neighbor kidnapped, raped, and murdered the boy. Four days passed before the discovery of his body.
Police arrested the main suspect along with three of his flatmates, who did not report the crimes.
The crime re-opened debate about the death penalty and pedophilia crimes on social networks, with some activists calling for stronger legislation to punish such crimes.