A disturbing video has been going viral on Facebook. The video shows a Moroccan woman forcibly getting undressed, groped, gagged, and gang raped, by three teenage boys. The incident happened this past Saturday (August 19th, 2017), and the video has been going viral ever since. Accordingly, six teenage suspects were arrested for raping 24 year-old, intellectually and mentally challenged, Imane yesterday morning (Monday 21st, 2017).
While it was great that the these boys were arrested, what happened to Imane deserves our undivided attention. Firstly, it is truly sickening that these boys feel entitled to do this to a woman in a public space. The fact that they feel comfortable enough to gang rape a woman on board of a public bus indicates a lack of fear for the consequences that they will face.
The truth is these criminals do not view themselves as criminals, their logic is that this is not murderer nor is it theft, this is just rape (hence, their comfort to do it so publicly). The sad part is that these are natural consequences of the sexism present in our Arab society; this is what happens when you do not take sexual harassment into consideration as a serious crime.
We let sexual harassment happen everyday publicly on our streets, so it really ought not be shocking that these boys felt no shame, and were comfortable enough to publicly gang rape a woman. The truth also is that we rape women everyday when we allow them to get sexually harassed on the streets of our Arab capitals, and proceed to socially shame them for it.
The absence of effective legal consequences, combined with the absence of appropriate social sanctions, will inevitably create a void; if you do not properly reprimand murderers, people will kill each other on the streets without blinking an eye. So why are crimes of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape not allotted the same sincerity as other violent crimes?
Secondly, let’s talk about the fact that these boys were cheering each other on. This is beyond rape, this is a case of criminal solicitation (ta7reed in Arabic). I mean, if criminal solicitation is legally defined as a person or a group of people offering money, incentives, or in any way encouraging another person or other people to commit a crime against an individual, then what happened here amounts to criminal solicitation.
While I don’t know for sure if these boys will be tried for criminal solicitation, I can guess that they probably won’t be. To try someone for criminal solicitation, you have to truly view that his/her actions pushed someone else towards committing a serious crime or inflicting undue harm upon someone else. Given the aforementioned point that we do not see rape as a serious crime, I do not think that these boys will be put on trial for criminal solicitation.
Thirdly, if we do want to get serious about such crimes, we need a comprehensive understanding of sexism and rape culture. The fact that women are much more likely going to be victims of domestic abuse than their male counterparts; the fact that women are blamed for rape, the fact that being a single mother is more likely going to place you in poverty than being a single father; and finally, the fact that a woman is so casually gang raped on a public bus, are all same versions of a monolithic story. So long as no one sees the connections between all these things, women will continue to get gang raped on public buses.
To those who will probably comment on this last point and say that Arab countries have other priorities like fighting terrorism, I have two questions for you. What state or country is ever going to progress when a faction of the population that represents approximately 50% of said country continues to be treated like second class citizens? Moreover, if you do not think that what happened to this woman amounts to sheer terrorism, then what does?
Women’s rights are not a secondary preoccupation for those who have nothing else to talk about, and so long as you treat women’s rights in this manner, then I ask you, dear commentator, to rest assured that this will happen (and has already happened) in some way or form to your mother, daughter, work colleague, wife, girlfriend, or best friend.