Footage posted online showed the 17-year-old Khadija Okkarou’s arms and legs covered in branding and burns 
Khadija explained that she tried to escape several times, but each time she was caught and tortured. “They didn’t give me food or drink, and I was not even allowed to take a shower.”
The violence against the teenager, Khadija, has sparked outrage and drawn support on social media
While some residents, ‘ driven by a machismo culture’, are against the teen for daring to report her ordeal, most of the town’s people support her brave move
75,000 people signed a petition urging action from Moroccan authorities to bring the perpetrators to book
Authorities have arrested 12 men and still  hunting another three in the abuse case
Some of the suspects have admitted to the crime

Authorities have arrested 12 men after Khadija Okkarou was kidnapped and sold to a gang who raped and forcibly tattooed her before she was dumped back at her family home near Beni Melal after two months.
The case has sparked outrage in Morocco as it emerged she endured extreme violence during the ordeal with a video was posted online showing her arms, leg and neck covered in tattoos and cigarette burns.
Parents of some of the accused have claimed the girl is ‘lying’, had been living promiscuously and ‘wanted this’. Doctors say she has been badly affected by such accusations.
Speaking at the family home in Oulad Ayad, near Beni Melal, central Morocco, her mother said she fainted when she saw her daughter’s desecrated body.
The story of the young girl’s ordeal in Oulad Ayad, a small town near Beni Mellal in central Morocco, had made the headlines, stirring up controversy on social media.
In an interview with Chouf TV, the teen recounted her ordeal, explaining that she was at her aunt’s house when she was kidnapped in front of the house.
She recounted that the men who took her raped her first before holding her captive in a house where she was handed over to other men for money.

Khadija's tatoos 2Branded without her consent: Khadija shows the tattoo marks she regained consciousness to find on her hand. The 17-year-old Moroccan girl told police she was gang-raped, forcibly tattooed and held against her will for two months, in the town of Oulad Ayad

Pointing to the tattoo marks and burns on her hand,  17-year-old Khadija said she was gang-raped, forcibly tattooed and held against her will for two months, in Oulad Ayad.
The victim’s mortified mother said: ‘I was caught off guard when those criminals brought my daughter and I saw her in this condition.

‘I fainted … I collapsed, seeing her like that, the tattoos, the burns, her honor lost.’
The mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘Why did they do this to my child? Are they beasts? Will my daughter ever return to the way she was?’.
The girl’s parents initially refused to report her case to authorities, fearing the social stigma of sexual abuse in a Muslim country. ‘But she insisted,’ her mother said. ‘She picked up the family records and just went to the gendarmes. I followed her.’
Khadija told authorities she was released in mid-August. Protesters have taken to social media to demand justice with the slogan: ‘We are all Khadija’.
In an interview with Moroccan the teen alleged that her kidnappers ‘would assault me one by one,’ burned her and didn’t feed her or let her shower.
She displayed crude swastikas and other tattoos as well as cigarette burns on her hands and legs.
The teen said that two men kidnapped her at knife-point when she was visiting her aunt during the May-June holy month of Ramadan, before selling her to other men in exchange for money or drugs. She said her captors gave her drugs that knocked her out for days at a time.
Khadija explained that she tried to escape several times, but each time she was caught and tortured. “They didn’t give me food or drink, and I was not even allowed to take a shower.”
The horrific account has sparked calls for an end to a culture that turns a blind eye to sexual assault and other violence against women, with nearly 75,000 people signing a petition urging action.

Khadija's tatoos1The tattoo marks are seen on her leg, as well. The teenager reportedly, was abducted and held against her will for two months, near Beni Melal, central Morocco. 

Twelve suspects are in custody in the alleged kidnapping and rape, and three are still at large, according to attorney Ibrahim c, who is representing the victim pro bono.
Hachane said Wednesday that an examining judge had ordered an investigation and a hearing was scheduled for September 6.
Meanwhile, the girl’s hometown is divided over her account.
‘Her testimony has generated a lot of compassion here, but some question her version of events,’ said a man in his 50s who asked to remain anonymous.
According to a neighbour, the young girl has tried to ‘keep out of sight’ in the town, now abuzz over her video testimony.
‘This girl kept bad company… we saw her going out with boys,’ said Ahmed, who runs a grocery shop near Khadija’s home.
According to him, relatives of some of the men she accused ‘had proposed an arrangement and her father was ready to accept’ until associations backing the girl’s testimony intervened.
A suspect’s mother who resorted to victim-shaming said: “She has a bad reputation in Oulad Ayad, everyone knows that she drinks, she smokes, and she even burns herself with her cigarettes,” said the mother. She also claimed Khadija was the one who asked for the tattoos and they were not forced on her by anyone.
In addition, the mother claimed that the victim was forced by her own mother, who is a prostitute, to do the same.
Khadija “was always saying that once she will be done with the single boys she will hit on the married ones,” the woman said in defense of her son’s actions.
“If she was really a victim, she would have taken my sons to the police station and I would have defended her myself. She wanted this, she was always knocking on my door asking if my son was home.”
The father of another suspect is querying why Khadija’s father, who knew she had disappeared for two months, did not think of calling the police: “We have authorities in our region, he should have filed a complaint. I can’t understand why he kept silent while his daughter was missing for two months.”
The defensive dad  claimed that Khadija was tattooed by a tattoo artist, and had been tattooed for a long time.
In addition, the families of the alleged perpetrators claimed that the victim was encouraged by associations to make the accusations.
Oulad Ayyad, which makes most of its money selling sweet beets and sugar, is part of the country’s poorest region, an environment where women typically wear headscarves and the traditional djellaba robes.
‘It’s a conservative region,’ said Mustafa, a truck driver sipping tea at one of the town’s men-only cafes.
Here, as in many rural areas in Morocco, girls stay home, marry young and do not associate with boys.

Khadija's home town of Oulad Ayad town, near Beni Melal, central Morocco 1Khadija’s home town of Oulad Ayad, near Beni Melal, central Morocco is divided over her coming forward with the charges

In outlying towns like Oulad Ayad in central Morocco where the 17-year-old reported that she was gang-raped, trafficked, held against her will and forcibly tattooed, young people have little access to education and services, according to a recent study published by Morocco’s statistics institute.

Like many girls her age, Khadija left school when she was 12 because her family was too poor to pay the costs.
‘[She] was a bit free, her father allowed her to leave the house and lead her life as she wanted,’ said Mustafa, who claimed to know the family well.
‘This is not the case for most girls here,’ he added.
A local coffee shop owner revealed that most residents of the town were ‘upset’ over what happened to Khadija, ‘Most people have compassion for her because it can happen to anyone.’
Some of the detained suspects have admitted to the charges, according to Ibrahim Hachane, Khadija’s lawyer. But their admissions have failed to convince the teenager’s detractors.
‘Unfortunately, the machismo culture makes some people blame her for what happened to her,’ said Hachane, a member of Morocco’s Association for Human Rights.
Disturbingly, some of the parents of the suspects have questioned her testimony an accused the young girl of ‘lying’ and living promiscuously. A development which has further traumatized the teen, according to Dr. Abdenbi Halmaoui, who has accompanied Khadija throughout her various medical examinations.

Ibrahim Hashane 1.JPGAttorney Ibrahim Hachane [photo], who is representing khadija pro bono is pressing the case

Twelve suspects are in custody in the alleged kidnapping and rape, and three are still at large, according to Ibrahim Hachane, a volunteer lawyer who is pressing the case

He has advised her family to take away her cellphone to prevent detractors from reaching her.
‘She must receive psychiatric support because even though she is stable, she is disturbed,’ Halmaoui told AFP.

Khadija's meme 5.JPG
After her story aired, Moroccans have addressed a petition to King Mohammed VI and public authorities to restore Khadija’s dignity. The hashtag #JusticePourKhadija (Justice for Khadija) was also created by social media users in support of the victim.
A Moroccan-Tunisian professional tattoo artist decided to help Khadija remove the tattoos inflicted by her alleged torturers.
In an article titled ‘We are all Khadija,’ Moroccan author and filmmaker Abdellah Taïa, criticized what he called Morocco’s rape culture and called on the government and King Mohammed VI to intervene. It was signed by dozens of Moroccan intellectuals.
‘We will move on. A new source of collective excitement. Nothing will be done,’ he wrote. ‘And as always, it is women who pay the price of all the dysfunctions of a society that still does not want to grow.’
Abdelwahed Saadi, a social worker and neighbor of the teen’s family, said no circumstances could excuse the alleged assault.
‘This girl is a minor. She says she has been abused and raped. Her words must be taken seriously,’ he said.