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Rabat – Hafsa Boutahar, the alleged rape victim of Omar Radi, called on all women to speak up about their experiences and fight for justice.
Boutahar worked with Omar Radi, a journalist, at Le Desk news outlet, accusing him of raping her on July 12, 2020.
The alleged victim called for a press conference on Wednesday to speak about her case and defend her image after she received many accusations, suggesting that the claims she made against Radi are false.
The National Union for Moroccan Press hosted the conference, which Morocco World News attended.
Stating that her appearance is of a “symbolic” nature, Hafsa Boutahar stressed she will refrain from violating the secrecy of the ongoing investigation on the rape case, refusing to give any details regarding the case.
Moroccan police arrested Omar Radi in July 2020. In addition to rape accusations, Radi faces accusations for his alleged involvement in “receiving foreign funding” and for “attacking the internal security of the State.”
Hafsa Boutahar emphasized that the event aimed to encourage women and support them in their fight for justice, freedom, and institutional protection from all kinds of violence.
‘Lack of solidarity’
She also condemned the lack of support and solidarity from NGOs, accusing some of leaking information about her complaint.
Boutahar argued that slogans, values, and vows promoted by NGOs are “nothing but words and were easily forgotten,” adding that she felt “unprotected” when she reached out for help.
The alleged victim cited several NGOs, including the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), accusing them of leaking her initial complaint. “Since this association claims to defend human rights, I have come to denounce its partiality since it chose its camp as soon as it leaked my complaint,” she said.
Boutahar also refuted claims made by Imad Stitou, Radi’s colleague and fellow journalist.
On Wednesday, Stitou said he was in “shock” to see the National Union of Moroccan Press organizing the event, arguing that the union should rather be neutral in the case.
Hafsa Boutahar claimed that her alleged rape occurred under Imad Stitou’s watch.
When asked about the recently published statement of her former colleague Imad Stitou, she said she has not read the statement, but that her appearance at the National Union of the Moroccan Press happened per her request.
Any journalist wishing to publicly speak on a matter through the union, she said, should take the initiative, and “the union will surely oblige.”
‘I did what I had to do’
One of the most frequent criticisms against Hafsa Boutahar was the timing of her complaint. She accused Omar Radi of rape while he was being investigated by authorities for “receiving funds from a foreign agent” and for undermining Morocco’s internal security.
When asked about what she thinks regarding the timing of her accusations, she defended the legitimacy by specifying that she filed the complaint a week after the alleged sexual assault occurred.
“The incident happened, and I did what I had to do,” she said.
Boutahar claimed Omar Radi raped her at her bosses’ house.
The bosses made their basement into a working place during the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
The alleged rape victim said Radi was sleeping in a room in front of where she was staying.
“I had no reason not to feel safe being with friends. We were colleagues, the house was full, with children, domestic workers, relatives. Why should I be afraid of Omar Radi?” Boutahar argued.
Radi continuously refused Boutahar’s claims, saying that what he had with her was consensual.
He also claimed that it was not the first time he had a sexual relationship with her.
“I and the complainant were in complete agreement regarding this relationship,” Radi said last year. The journalist also claimed he is innocent of all accusations against him, including his involvement in receiving funds from a “foreign agent.”
In late June 2020 prior to his arrest, Radi told Morocco World News that the government is targeting him with NSO spyware technology, but he does not know why.
Moroccan authorities rejected all claims and accusations Omar Radi made to the press and those published in a related Amnesty International report.
Morocco continued to insist on concrete evidence from Amnesty International, following its allegations of spyware use.
Amnesty International, however, provided no material evidence upon request and did not respond to MWN’s request to show further proof that the NGO used to make its claims.
Khouloud Haskouri contributed to this story