Rabat – Nicknamed the Moroccan #MeToo movement, the Masaktach (I will not be silent) collective call for sexual assault and rape victims to testify about their personal experiences through social media messaging. The movement is an appeal for victims to speak up and denounce their aggressors.
On February 9, the collective announced its call for victim testimonies: “Our Facebook and Twitter messaging is open to you, we will publish the testimonials that you send there. Denounce these aggressors who act with impunity, comforted by your silence.”
Passionate about giving a voice to survivors, the Masaktash collective launched in September 2018 help assault victims to break their silence in wake of two prominent Moroccan rape cases: Khadija and Saad Lamjarred.
By speaking about her experiences after being kidnapped, forcibly tattooed, and raped for two months by 12 adults and minors, Khadija’s story made headlines across Morocco in 2018. The suspects faced charges of human trafficking of a minor, rape, torture, and threatening death.
Another rape case that sparked the launch of Masaktach involved Saad Lamjarred, a famous Moroccan singer who French police first arrested for a sexual assault allegation in Paris, 2016.
The following year, Lamjarred’s alleged victim broke her silence by posting a video about her experience, including photos of marks on her back and a bruised lip.
“After he raped me, I locked myself in the bathroom. Then I realized that I had to go back to the room because my phone was there. I had to call someone for help.”
Masaktach posted the following quotes on their Facebook page, where Moroccan rape victims anonymously messaged the collective with their experiences.
”My name is K.M. I have been raped twice in my life; the first time at 6 years old, the second time at 33. The first time violated my innocence, the second violated my confidence in humans. They both bruised my body, wounded my soul, and disturbed my mind. #Masatkach”
“I was 12 years old, he was 18. He was my first cousin, our parents went out to dinner because we were all very close. We were watching TV. He stole my virginity and he affected my life… #Masaktach”
“I was a victim of sexual abuse at the age of 9 years old. My mother and I left to visit my mother’s best friend. Her husband, whom I considered a family member and who was older than my father, asked me to join him to go around the house, I accepted. Once on the terrace he started to touch my chest and maybe something else… #Masaktach”
“I have been unable to go anywhere other than in public places for a long time, it happens to me again and again. Today I’m 25 years old, I have memories from that time. Anxiety, sleep and eating disorders. I never talked about it, I just cried at home for a long time, then I did everything to forget that night. In vain. I hope that I will have the courage to talk about it with my face one day. #Masaktach”
“My name is A. I am a transgender woman. My first time having sex was rape by a man the age of my father. I came out of his house crying. I didn’t realize it was rape until today. #Masaktach”
Sexual assault and rape remains a major problem in Morocco. In May 2019, 52% of Moroccan women claimed to have experienced sexual or gender based violence, according to the Moroccan government.
Meanwhile, 78% of Moroccan men agreed that women who dress provocatively deserve to be harassed, according to a 2017 UN survey. Now, in 2020, judicial officials, Moroccan media outlets, and social media users continue to comment on what the assault victims were wearing or doing, rather than castigating the aggressor for the attack.
In 2018, Morocco passed law no. 103-13, titled “Combating Violence Against Women.” Though a progressive law, the obstacles for the victims in speaking up to formally accuse sexual aggressors persist.
The law only protects assault victims from their aggressors if the victim files a criminal claim against them. It also criminalizes sex outside of marriage, deterring victims from speaking up as they risk being prosecuted themselves. It is difficult for victims to formally testify to their trauma as societal and familial pressures against filing criminal claims prevent victims from speaking up.
Masaktach explains the difficulty of testifying rape: “The words of survivors should be released, because fear has to change sides, because the evidence of rape and abuse is often difficult.”
Protections like medical care, therapy, and shelters are also provided through the 103-13 law, however, only during criminal prosecution, or after a criminal conviction. The law does not criminalize marital rape, provide a definition of domestic violence, or protect women engaging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage.