A disabled woman was sexually harassed on a bus by a group of teenagers, sparking massive outrage across Morocco.
A mass sit-in is set to take place in Casablanca on Wednesday evening to condemn and protest the aggressive group sexual assault against a helpless woman inside a public bus. The assault took place on August 18 and part of the abuse was filmed and posted online. The short clip quickly went viral.
In the video footage, the 24-year-old victim can be seen crying, while a group of teenagers molest her, insult her, and horrifically tear her clothes off. No passenger bothered to rescue the girl throughout the duration of the footage shot.
Moroccan police said the victim struggles with learning difficulties. At the time of the video posting and going viral, complaint has yet to be filed by the victim or by the driver of the bus.
Six teenager-suspects were arrested on Monday, between the ages of 15 and 17. Authorities said the boys are now under investigation. But on the same day, public transport company M’Dina tried to wash its hands off and said the video that has been circulating is too short to establish whether the bus driver indeed failed to do something. The company said: “At this stage, contrary to commentary on social media , we cannot confirm that the driver failed to react.”
There have been shocking reactions from social media users since the footage went public, with some blaming the victim for being on a bus “with so many men” on it.
Majority of the responses,however, have expressed anger over the incident. More than 1,200 people expressed on the event’s Facebook page their interest in attending the sit-in. The protest description of the page says: “It concerns us all, we can no longer be silent.”
One of those attending is Mamoun Arfal, a Casablanca resident who has expressed alarm about the frequency of rape cases in Morocco’s big cities. He said: “What’s shocking is how other passengers as well as the bus driver were turning a blind eye to it. We can’t let rapists think they’re free to do as they please, so I’m attending because not only I need to stand for what’s right but also because it might be my mother, sister or friend who’s next.”
Arfal also condemns the culture of victim-blaming, and even said that “I think the passive bystanders are just as bad as the rapists.”
Sexual harassment, violence, and abuse of women is a major social problem in Morocco. About two-thirds of women have experienced sexual, physical, psychological or economic abuse.
The U.S. Mission in Morocco has issued a warning to its citizens to avoid the area.