The observers

Morocco: video of tortured child testifies to scourge of parental violence in the country

A particularly shocking video of a mother torturing her daughter has sparked terror among Moroccan internet users. Shot during the first lockdown, in April, she did not escape until November 24. In Morocco, child protection associations and Unicef ​​continue to denounce the very high rate of child victims of abuse within their families, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The physical torture of a little girl continues for four long minutes, inflicted by her mother and filmed by her own brother. The mother drags her ten-year-old daughter by the hair through the house. She struggles, yelling repeatedly at her brother and father for help. “Please tell him not to film!” The crying child begs. “Shut up,” her mother whispered to her, keeping her down. Her mother then picks her up, still by the hair, and addresses two other young children who are watching the scene: “I’m going to teach you to eat your boogers”, the camera then focuses on their faces. dazed. The cries of the little one, kept on the ground, start again, assuring her mother: “I will never do it again!” The video was filmed, according to local media, six months ago in Larache. , in the Tangier region and broadcast on WhatsApp. First posted on WhatsApp by the mother, it eventually leaked on the evening of November 24 to Facebook, where it was shared nearly 9,000 times and viewed over 12,000 times. We only post screenshots of the video being her extremely shocking character.The torture worsens: As the girl tells her mother that she can’t breathe, she burns her daughter’s nose with a white-hot fork. His brother, who continues to film, keeps his arm on the ground with his foot. Her mother then slaps her and slaps her on the head and back, shouting, “Little p *** eater of booze!”, Before the little girl finally manages to free herself from her grip and run. take refuge on the stairs. As she runs, we see a gray haired man watching TV in the living room, impassive. The scene is reminiscent of other incidents of parental violence in Morocco: On May 27, in Casablanca, a father kidnapped and tortured his 15-year-old son and beat him with burning substances. A month earlier, on April 27, an 8-year-old child had died in Tant-tan (south) under torture, inflicted by his stepfather. Also in April, in Tangier, a teenager victim of domestic violence filmed and broadcast his mother-in-law’s repeated attacks on him. Nine out of 10 children experience physical and verbal abuse in Morocco Many other similar incidents have been reported in recent years in Morocco. According to a Unicef ​​report in 2017, 91% of Moroccan children are victims of physical, verbal and moral violence. The Moroccan justice ministry reports that more than 25,000 accused and suspects in cases of violence against children are, for the most part, family members.During periods of confinement to combat the spread of Covid-19, violence against children has even increased: nearly 50 cases reported, over the period of the first confinement in Morocco – from March 20 to July 10 – to the National Child Rights Observatory (ONDE), which set up a portal for reporting acts of violence against children in May. On 25 November, the child’s mother was arrested as part of an investigation. Her father, interviewed by the media ChoufTv, described the general indignation as “exaggerated”, and assures that his daughter “has no physical after-effects of the punishment (…) My wife educates our children very well, it was just a moment of anger, ”he argued. “This kind of violence is hardly ever brought to justice” Najat Anwar is the founder of “Touche pas à mon enfant”, a Moroccan NGO that works for legal and educational protection for minors who are victims of abuse. She explains:> Regarding this assault, we have learned that the girl and her twin sister respectively have the habit of eating her boogers and the other biting her nails respectively. This indicates that the victim is evolving in an unstable environment. She needs psychological counseling because this compulsive attitude is in the medical field. However, her mother punished her very violently, with the father’s total passivity. The mother probably wanted to correct her daughter according to practices of another time, which treat this kind of problem by burning the fingers of the children or by making them ingest pepper through the nose … Some parents, often for lack of education and for having themselves suffered this violence in their childhood, reproduce what they experienced by imagining that corporal punishment is an effective solution when it only makes the situation worse. As for filming such acts, even to “set an example”, it is quite simply the most reprehensible perversity: not only did she inflict physical and verbal violence on her daughter, but she also broadcast this humiliation to her face. discovered on the internet.> The abuse is certainly all the more traumatic when it is committed by a member of the family supposed to guarantee protection and affection, which creates dissociative disorders in the child and dysfunctional behaviors: aggressiveness or mutism, phobias, manias, addictions, self-mutilation … The personal and social consequences are multiple: loss of self-esteem, depression, isolation, school dropout.>> This type of complaint is hardly ever brought to the fore. justice. In Morocco, we lack mechanisms for reporting assaults for adults, and even more so for children: no listening system in schools, nor social assistance, which is what the Ministry of National Education is currently thinking about. . This could turn into a listening cell to contact parents if the ministry detects a worrying family situation. “During confinement, many children were physically exploited by their parents”> A majority of the cases that we deal with concern physical, sexual and psychological violence committed within the family home, which makes the reporting process of all the more complex, especially when the victim is subjected to blackmail and the incestuous influence of a parent or loved one. This trend confirms official data according to which most child abuse is intrafamilial.> The reports we have received have reached the end of confinement [fin juin 2020, NDLR]. We realized that during this period of economic paralysis, many children from rural areas and from precarious families had been physically exploited by their parents, the closure of schools having inevitably accentuated the phenomenon. This explains why many children now flee this violence in the family home. Some families go so far as to evict their own children, for lack of space in these dwellings called “suspended barrakas”, often narrow social housing which is not suitable for families, and which increases tensions during confinement.> > As for the fate of the victims, and of the brothers and sisters if applicable, everything depends on the consequences of the social investigation: in situations of violence, if the children are not entrusted to other members of the family, they are placed in homes and dedicated protection centers. It is to be hoped that they do not soon find their torturers, provided they are taken care of by educators and competent tutors. The Moroccan penal code provides for imprisonment of one to three years for anyone who “voluntarily wears wounds or blows to a child under the age of fifteen “(art.408) and from two to five years when the culprit is an ascendant or having custody of the victim (art.411).