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Moroccan Hometown Of ‘Gang-raped Teen’ Divided Over Case

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Moroccan Hometown Of 'Gang-raped Teen' Divided Over Case

The hometown of a Moroccan teenager who says she was kidnapped and gang raped is divided over her account of a case that has sparked outrage across the kingdom.

In a video posted online last week, 17-year-old Khadija Okkarou said members of a “dangerous gang” in her town had kidnapped and held her prisoner for two months, raping and torturing her.

But residents in the one-road town of Oulad Ayyad in rural central Morocco are split over what happened and why.

“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.

In the video, she shows horrific scars allegedly from cigarette burns and rudimentary tattoos carved into parts of her body.

It has sparked a wave of solidarity on social media – one petition has collected more than 70 000 signatures – and demonstrations of support in her town.

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But it’s also brought out detractors.

‘Arrangement’

“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.

On a recent busy market day, the few women seen in the town were all wearing 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.

Oulad Ayyad, which makes most of its money selling sweet beets and sugar, is part of the country’s poorest region.

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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, residents told AFP.

“(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.

Hassan, a coffee shop owner, said most of the town was “upset” over what happened to Khadija.

“Most people have compassion for her because it can happen to anyone.”

‘Machismo culture’

Moroccan police have arrested 12 people – aged from 18 to 28 – over the case, with charges ranging from “trafficking a minor” to “rape”, according to a judicial source.

Other charges include “torture and the use of a weapon to inflict injuries and psychological damage” and “forming an armed gang”.

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Some of the detainees 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.

Parents of some of the accused have accused the young girl of “lying” and living promiscuously.

Dr. Abdenbi Halmaoui, who has accompanied Khadija throughout her various medical examinations, said she has been “badly” affected by those who have questioned her testimony.

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.

AFP

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African News

NYSC Introduces Biometric Clearance System To Curb Corruption – DG

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NYSC DG Sulaiman Kazaure

Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, Major Gen Suleiman Kazaure, has disclosed that the corps has introduced a biometric clearance system to eliminate corruption and compromise by officials and corps members.

The DG stated this on Monday during a leadership and anti-corruption sensitisation workshop in Abuja, designed to raise a crop of officials that would imbibe good leadership qualities and enthrone a culture of transparency and accountability.

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He also revealed that the scheme had ensured strict compliance with government policies on the treasury single account, integrated personnel and payroll system, and government integrated financial management information system.

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The D.G says the introduction of biometric clearance system for corps members has virtually eliminated all chances of compromise by officials, as well as absenteeism and abscondence by corps members.

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The biometrics system now ensures only deserving corps members are paid the monthly and other statutory allowances.

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Zimbabwe: Party Accused Of Partisan Distribution Of Aid To Victims Of Cyclone

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Zimbabwe: Party Accused Of Partisan Distribution Of Aid To Victims Of Cyclone

Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF lawmaker for Chimanimani East, Nokuthula Matsikenyere, has been sucked into the eye of a storm over the partisan distribution of aid to victims of cyclone idai.

Chimanimani and Chipinge in the south east of Manicaland were the worst affected areas by the storm that left a trail of destruction and more than a hundred forty persons dead.

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Affected villagers have accused ruling ZANU-PF officials, including Matsikenyere, of politicizing the disaster relief donated by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).  They said the aid was given to only ZANU-PF supporters.

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In a heated meeting on Saturday in a village where the relief aid was distributed, Matsikenyere was quoted as openly saying to the disgruntled villagers they deserved to be deprived of the disaster relief because they did not vote for her during last year’s elections.

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The lawmaker later confirmed to a news crew that she directed the aid distribution, but that she was not involved in compiling names of recipients.  She did not admit to saying what the villagers attributed to her.

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Study Shows Millions In Africa Live In Fear Of Losing Their Homes

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Study Shows Millions In Africa Live In Fear Of Losing Their Homes

A new study Prindex shows tens of millions of urban dwellers in Sub-Saharan Africa live in fear of losing their homes against their will.

The study shows that in eighteen countries surveyed, nearly thirty-two million adults in urban areas are “insecure in their rights to their home and land.”

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The study says this means that more than sixty million adults living in urban areas are tenure insecure.  If the trend continues, the study says insecurity could afflict more than two hundred million by 2050.

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Measuring security of tenure is one of the indicators used to assess progress in attaining the first of the sustainable development goals, which is the eradication of poverty.

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Prindex is an initiative launched by two think tanks—the global land alliance, and the London-based overseas development institute.

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