Reda Abdelrahman

Reda Abdelrahman: Woman, 2014

On July 1, 2020, Nadeen Ashraf, a twenty-two-year-old student at the American University of Cairo, noticed that a 2018 post by a fellow student to an unofficial university-related Facebook group had been removed. The post had warned about another student, Ahmed Bassam Zaki, a young man from a rich and powerful family who sexually harassed and blackmailed young women, and it had garnered many comments, including by other female students who corroborated its allegations. Its author hadn’t known where else to share it, and now it was gone. Ashraf also knew that a female classmate had recently accused Zaki of harassment on her own social media account but had taken down the post when his family threatened legal action.

Incensed, Ashraf created an Instagram account, named it Assault Police (i.e., a police force against assault), and listed some of the numerous allegations against Zaki. The next morning she discovered that her account had thousands of followers; dozens of women contacted her to share their stories of being assaulted by Zaki.

Assault Police went viral. Ashraf continued to gather testimonies about Zaki, more than 150 of them. They included accounts of rape and chilling voice messages that he had left on the phones of women he had assaulted, in which he called them whores and threatened to expose them if they didn’t accede to further sexual demands. Zaki was twenty-one and had apparently been harassing, assaulting, and blackmailing women since he was a teenager. He had attended a number of elite schools in Cairo; when allegations against him first surfaced in 2018, he threatened to kill himself and then transferred to a business school in Barcelona.

Ashraf and other volunteers who joined her in managing the Assault Police account urged women who wanted to file charges against Zaki to come forward, promising to put them in touch with lawyers who could assist them. The Egyptian media began covering the story. Within a week, Zaki was arrested, and on September 1 he was charged with three counts of sexual assault against underage women and multiple counts of blackmail and harassment. The National Council for Women (NCW)—an official body made up of prominent women from academia, government, and civil society whose president is appointed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi—also strongly encouraged women who had been victims of sexual assault to come forward, assuring them that it would protect them and help them file charges. The NCW received four hundred complaints in the week after Ashraf launched Assault Police. Other feminist organizations also received calls from women wanting to talk about sexual assault they had experienced. The Egyptian cabinet approved a new law that for the first time shielded the privacy of victims of sexual violence.

In Egypt—and other countries in the Arab region—victims rarely report rape, because doing so exposes them to intense social stigma, the threat of violence, and the risk of jail. Police question them about their sexual history and behavior and discourage them from filing charges, when they don’t treat them as suspects who may be charged themselves under broad laws that criminalize an array of “immoral” behavior. Victims may be shunned, blamed, and punished by their families, especially by male relatives who consider themselves dishonored. Very few women are willing to go through this ordeal. Needless to say, this climate of fear, shame, and victim-blaming is what a predator like Zaki took full advantage of.

Last summer, young women, activists, and survivors of sexual assault in Egypt felt they might finally have a chance to change things. The Egyptian political environment has been deeply repressive since the military took over in 2013 from an Islamist government and launched a relentless, violent crackdown on freedom of speech and assembly. But as one woman who enthusiastically supported the online campaign told me, activists chose to collaborate with state institutions, such as the office of the public prosecutor and the National Council for Women, hoping they would gain legitimacy and political cover: “We knew we were taking risks but didn’t think that we could be seen as calling for anything really radical.”

Zaki’s prosecution has been described as Egypt’s Me Too moment—an outpouring of stories that women had bottled up for years. But it was also just one chapter of a long local struggle, comprising countless campaigns and initiatives to tackle harassment, sexism, and violence against women. The early protests of the Arab Spring in 2011 marked a high point for women’s participation in public life, but their aspirations weren’t taken seriously by any political forces. In the chaos and repression that followed, women faced terrible violence: the army subjected some detained female demonstrators to a “virginity test” (a medically discredited vaginal examination to ascertain if the hymen is intact). Sisi, then a member of the military council governing the country, explained the practice as a means of protecting the army against unfounded accusations of rape. “The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” another general said at the time. “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place.”


Women were also sexually assaulted by mobs in the middle of protests (a phenomenon that activists organized against, showing incredible personal bravery to protect women in Egypt’s public spaces). Female activists and journalists have been arrested, killed, and brutalized alongside their male colleagues.

In December Zaki was sentenced to three years in prison for blackmail and harassment; he is still facing additional charges of rape, attempted rape, and drug possession. In the meantime, the online movement that had focused on his crimes was galvanized to take further action. In late July Ashraf made public a number of allegations about an incident in a room at Cairo’s posh Fairmont Nile City Hotel, in 2014. After a large party held elsewhere in the hotel, a number of young men had reportedly raped an unconscious young woman who had been given the date-rape drug GHB. They also wrote their initials on her body and filmed the attack, possibly to blackmail the eighteen-year-old victim; the video was circulated among their friends. The men, some of whose names and pictures were posted online by others in the following days, were all the sons of rich and prominent families; their fathers include a soccer coach and a steel tycoon.

After publicizing the case, Ashraf received death threats. She temporarily suspended Assault Police, but other accounts sprang up to continue publicizing the case. On August 4 the Fairmont Hotel rape victim, whose identity has not been made public, filed an official complaint. Several witnesses—both men and women—came forward to support her account. On August 24 the public prosecutor issued warrants for the arrest of nine men. By that time, seven of them had fled the country. The two remaining in Egypt were arrested. Three more were caught in Lebanon and extradited at Egypt’s behest.

And then the case took a terrible turn. Just days after the arrest warrants were issued, witnesses began to disappear. After a few days of panic, it became clear that security forces had been rounding them up, holding them incommunicado, and interrogating them. They were forced to hand over phones, electronic devices, and passwords. Material from their personal accounts subsequently appeared in stories in government-connected media that smeared them as participants in “sex parties.”

It was also used to turn them into suspects. They were forced to undergo drug tests, and the men were subjected to anal exams to ascertain if they were homosexuals (a common practice in Egypt that has been widely condemned by human rights organizations).

Ahmed Ganzoury, a well-known event planner whose company had put on the Fairmont party, was one of those taken into custody. So was Seif Bedour, a young man who was with a female witness when security forces showed up at her house and who accompanied her to the police station to lend moral support. (Bedour was fourteen when the Fairmont party took place and had no connection to it.) He and Ganzoury were reportedly held in the same jail cell as the accused rapists.

Another person who had come forward offering to testify and was then arrested was Nazli Moustafa Karim, who was once married to one of the rapists and was therefore accused of seeking “revenge” on her ex-husband. On the basis of leaked personal videos and images and salacious rumors, Karim’s personal history was subjected to relentless scrutiny by the Egyptian media.

Ganzoury, Bedour, and Karim have finally been released, but they are banned from leaving the country and could face charges of drug use, debauchery, misusing social media, and working to damage the image of the Egyptian state. Now everyone—those who were accused of rape and those who provided testimony against them, as well as innocent bystanders like Bedour—has been lumped into the category of the accused. The “revelations” that have been leaked to tabloids and online commentators have cast the story not as a gang rape but as the scandalous behavior of the country’s gilded youth. When, in the days after the witnesses’ arrests, panicked activists tried to get in touch with the National Council for Women, its members didn’t answer their phones. The council has made no comment on the case since.

The sudden blowback stopped the online movement in its tracks and terrified women who had reported assaults, as well as activists and members of the LGBTQ community, who feared yet another crackdown. (“Debauchery” is the charge commonly leveled against gay people in Egypt, since homosexuality is not explicitly criminalized.) The woman I spoke to who had supported the online campaign against sexual assault was riven by guilt. She worried that by encouraging victims to come forward, she had put them in jeopardy. “It feels like we handed these people over and in some cases handed ourselves over,” she said. “Everything we were afraid of has happened, it is as bad as we were afraid it could be…. How can we tell women to ever come forward again?”


The fact that those who hoped for a reckoning with sexual violence and impunity have now been “terrorized into silence,” as a friend in Cairo described it, probably suits those in power. The military regime and the security services in Egypt, still obsessed by the specter of the Arab Spring, are inherently hostile to online mobilization and to the idea of powerful men being held accountable. Meanwhile, Egypt’s nearly all-male legislature and judiciary are always eager to monitor the most banal forms of self-expression, and the behavior of women in particular.

Last summer, for example, several young female TikTok personalities were convicted of “offending family values” under a new cybercrimes law and given prison sentences. Their crimes seemed to consist in little more than posting videos of themselves in sexy outfits or dancing. (Class has played a part in their cases: because the “TikTok girls” came from modest backgrounds and used their videos to make a living, they have received little sympathy, whereas what the public found particularly shocking about the Ahmed Bassam Zaki and the Fairmont cases was that they involved young people from prominent families, as well as elite institutions and venues.) When another TikTok influencer, seventeen-year-old Menna Abdel Aziz, used her social media platform to share that she had been beaten and raped, investigators at first brought charges against her—for “misusing social media, inciting debauchery and offending family values”—as well as the alleged rapists. (The charges against Abdel Aziz were finally dropped.)

The Egyptian writer Yasmin El-Rifae argues that at the heart of the government’s response is a need to assert constant control:

Over and over, statements by the prosecutor and the Justice Ministry open and close with the need to protect social values and family morals. Why is the priority the protection of these abstracted ideas, rather than individuals? Or is the point to remind us that, in the end, our bodies and our sexualities are not our own?1

There is more than one way to achieve control. If in Egypt a Me Too movement has been brutally smothered, in Morocco a similar movement seems to have been hijacked by the authorities to serve their own ends. During the Arab Spring, protests in Morocco were quickly contained by the monarchy, which held a referendum in 2011 on political reforms and allowed more open, competitive elections. But the promised reforms failed to materialize, and the authorities now appear to be using dubious accusations of sexual crimes as a weapon against journalists, protesters, artists, and civil society organizations. This amounts to what Hicham Mansouri, a journalist who was convicted on what he says were trumped-up charges of adultery and operating a brothel in 2015, calls a “sexual strategy” of repression. Mansouri says police broke into his house when he was there in the company of a woman and filmed them after forcing them to undress.

In recent years, several gang rapes have made headlines in Morocco. Activists launched a social media campaign called Masaktach (I Will Not Be Silent) to publicize how common sexual violence is in women’s daily lives. Rape is considered a source of shame for victims and their families, and reporting it remains a difficult, confusing, and degrading process. In 2019 a nationwide survey found that in the previous twelve months, less than 3 percent of the victims of sexual violence had filed a complaint. Sex outside of marriage is still a crime according to Moroccan law; women rarely report rape because if they can’t prove their case, they risk being prosecuted themselves. Official statistics from 2018 show that 1,008 rape cases went to court. A report from 2011 showed that in cases of violence and sexual assault against women, offenders were arrested only 1.3 percent of the time and indicted in 1.8 percent of the cases.

Powerful men continue to enjoy near impunity when it comes to sexual violence. Morocco’s best-known pop star, Saad Lamjarred, has been accused of rape at least three times; when he was arrested in France in 2016, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI paid for his legal counsel. At the same time, high-profile cases of sexual assault have been brought repeatedly in recent years against government critics, who were often already targeted by negative media campaigns and an array of criminal charges (such as money laundering, insulting the state and religion, or supporting terrorism).

Three journalists are currently detained or under investigation for sex crimes. One of them is Omar Radi, an independent investigative journalist who has covered political corruption. I met Radi when I lived in Morocco; he was a guest lecturer in a journalism program I ran there. With his unruly hair, leather jacket, and uncompromising views, he impressed my students as the archetypal rebellious, crusading reporter. He had made a documentary about the Hirak, a protest movement that broke out in Morocco’s northern Rif region in 2016 and has been violently repressed by the government. In 2019 he was accused of “insulting a magistrate” for a tweet that criticized Lahcen Tolfi, a judge who had upheld twenty-year jail sentences for Hirak activists. In March 2020 Radi was given a four-month suspended sentence in the case.

In June 2020 newspapers around the world published the results of an Amnesty International investigation showing that Radi and others had been the targets of hacking by the Moroccan government, which used spyware from an Israeli company that grants “complete access to a phone’s messages, emails, media, microphone, camera, calls and contacts.” The Moroccan authorities reacted with furious denials; they challenged Amnesty to prove that they had hacked Radi’s phone and claimed that they were facing an “unjust international defamation campaign.” Four days after the allegations were made public, Radi was called in for questioning by the police. Over the course of the summer, he was summoned twelve times, for interrogations that each lasted six to nine hours. Radi denounced his interrogations as harassment for his journalism and struck a defiant, sarcastic tone. “Apparently I am spying on behalf of every EU country that has ever given me a visa,” he tweeted. “And by talking on the phone to the press officers of the embassies of these countries. Undeniable proof.” The transcripts of his interrogations would one day “be exposed in an art gallery.”

Human Rights Watch estimates that three news sites with close connections to the Moroccan government and security services—ChoufTV, Barlamane, and Le360—published 136 articles attacking Radi, his family, or his supporters between June 7 and September 15. Sites such as these, many of which are headed by former state media officials and believed to be financed by businessmen close to the king, have an uncanny ability to predict charges that have not yet been brought, and their cameramen are often present at the scene of arrests. They specialize in venomous smear campaigns against dissidents, and they have access to details about ongoing police investigations and personal information that could only be obtained through surveillance. Over one hundred independent Moroccan journalists recently signed an open letter condemning this “slander media.”

The accusations against Radi are based on intercepted messages between him and Dutch diplomats, with whom he appears to have discussed the situation in the Rif, and on his consulting work, such as an agreement with the British firm G3 (Good Governance Group) to conduct a corporate due diligence investigation of a Moroccan company that one of G3’s clients was considering investing in. Radi’s contact at G3 was a retired British intelligence officer named Clive Dare Newell, who has worked in the private sector since 2011; hence the accusation that Radi was engaged in espionage on behalf of “agents of a foreign authority.” A fellowship that Radi received from the Geneva-based Bertha Foundation to conduct an investigative journalism project on land expropriation in Morocco is the basis of a charge of receiving funds to carry out “an activity or propaganda that could shake the loyalty that citizens owe to the state and the institutions of the Moroccan people.” As Human Rights Watch points out, none of the information Radi gathered or shared appears to be classified. He was nonetheless taken into custody on July 29, on suspicion of espionage and harming national security. To these highly questionable accusations, a new and shocking one was added: rape.

On the night of July 12–13, Radi and several other journalists at the independent news site Le Desk chose to work and sleep at the house of the site’s editor, Ali Amar, due to Covid-19 curfew restrictions. Hafsa Boutahar, a young woman who worked on public relations and advertising for the site, also spent the night. Boutahar, Radi, and another colleague, Imad Stitou, all crashed on couches in the large living room. According to both Radi and Boutahar, at about 2 AM, Radi texted Boutahar, “Shall I come or you come?” She responded, “Come when I’m finished.”

Nadeen Ashraf

Sima Diab/The New York Times/Redux

Nadeen Ashraf, a student at the American University of Cairo who started an Instagram account listing allegations that another student had assaulted and blackmailed numerous women, September 2020

That’s where their accounts diverge. According to Boutahar, she just thought Radi wanted to join her for a conversation; instead he forced himself violently upon her, choking her and covering her mouth. Radi denies the charge, saying their encounter was entirely consensual. Before being taken into custody, he prepared a statement that was published on his father’s Facebook page, calling the accusation “malicious” and “a set-up,” and its timing far from “an innocent coincidence.” Imad Stitou, who was first questioned by police as a witness and whose testimony supported Radi’s version of events, has now been accused of complicity in the rape. Boutahar granted several interviews to news sites close to the regime, repeating her version and discussing how difficult it had been for her to come forward. When subsequently contacted by other media outlets, she said she could not comment on an ongoing investigation. Radi has been held in solitary confinement and his requests to be released pending his trial have been denied.

The rape charge was greeted with consternation. It gave genuine pause to Radi’s supporters, and to those who doubted it was true, it signaled the lengths the regime was willing to go to settle scores with its enemies. Activists were torn between their support for freedom of the press and their support for a presumed victim of sexual assault. Many have kept their doubts private, out of genuine confusion but also fear that they could be targeted by smear campaigns and investigations. Those who have continued to stand by Radi have been attacked online and in pro-government media outlets as rape apologists and hypocrites. But no one is suggesting that rape allegations—against dissidents or anyone else—shouldn’t be seriously investigated. The question is not any one woman’s credibility—it is the credibility of a system that is known to engage in defamation, surveillance, and politically motivated trials and is now repeatedly targeting its enemies with sexual assault charges, while making little effort to fight sexual violence generally.

That is the point made by the array of human rights and press freedom organizations that have rallied around Radi. The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), the country’s most important grassroots human rights organization, has supported him. Human Rights Watch has published a detailed report on his case, noting:

Morocco has a history of arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning independent journalists, activists or politicians on questionable charges of sex outside of wedlock or sexual assault. Some of these trials have been widely denounced as politically motivated and failing to guarantee due process for all parties.

Some activists have been targeted not with legal charges but with the dissemination of the details of their intimate lives. Recently, a prominent Moroccan economist and human rights activist, Fouad Abdelmoumni, revealed that he had been secretly videotaped having sex in his home; the recordings were sent to dozens of his relatives and friends. Abdelmoumni is a lifelong dissident who has been jailed several times and has been vocal in his denunciation of the lack of democracy in Morocco. He has said that he believes only the state had the motivation and the means to install the sophisticated equipment required to film in his home, and that the recordings were made in order to silence him.

One of those who have spoken out to defend Radi is Afaf Bernani, a young woman who was directly involved in a highly politicized rape case and whose story also helps explain the skepticism surrounding the charge against Radi. She wrote in an opinion essay in The Washington Post:

It may come as a surprise to hear that I—as a Moroccan woman and as someone who has experienced the unfortunate realities of sexual harassment in Morocco—am skeptical of these charges. While sexual assault and abuse of any kind are abhorrent and always deserves serious investigation, there is good reason to believe that such allegations are being exploited for political purposes. Why? Because I’ve seen that happen myself.2

On February 24, 2018, the twenty-six-year-old Bernani was called in for questioning by Morocco’s judicial police. Bernani worked at Akhbar al-Youm, Morocco’s top independent newspaper, whose publisher, Taoufik Bouachrine, had been arrested the day before in a police raid on his office. Bouachrine and his newspaper had been in trouble with the authorities since its creation in 2009. Like everyone else at the publication, Bernani was wondering what the latest accusations against him would be.

When she arrived at the police station, Bernani was led to a room where an officer, she told me, “ordered me to sit down and start talking. ‘Tell us everything,’ he said, ‘we already know the truth.’ He was yelling and hitting the table. And I didn’t know what he was talking about,” Bernani remembers. “I didn’t know why I was there, I didn’t know what this truth was.”

Akhbar al-Youm is one of the only media outlets that reports on corruption, a persistent complaint in a country where there is great inequality and the makhzen (the network of prominent businessmen, families, and officials close to the royal family) monopolizes the economy. Bouachrine was famous for his lacerating editorials attacking politicians and even Morocco’s all-powerful but largely absentee king, who spends much of his time at lavish overseas properties (he recently bought an €80 million mansion in Paris). Bouachrine was also reportedly close to Abdelilah Benkirane, the leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party and Morocco’s former prime minister, whom the monarchy and its allies considered dangerously popular and whom they successfully sidelined in 2017.

The charges against Bouachrine included rape, attempted rape, abuse of power for sexual purposes, and human trafficking. The evidence was fifty videos of him with various women, which the police said they found in his office and which they claim he recorded himself. Bouachrine and his lawyers maintained that the videos had been manipulated, that he was not recognizable in them, and that he had not recorded them.

Bernani was one of many women who were called in by the police to give testimony in connection with the case. She says she spent eight hours at the police station, having her deposition taken and being pressured to accuse Bouachrine, which she refused to do. She told me that the next day, she was shocked to see media reports that she was one of his victims. Even though she denied this, she was still forced to attend Bouachrine’s trial, which was a media circus and an ordeal for the female witnesses. “We were humiliated in front of our mothers and fathers, we couldn’t enter and exit the court in dignity,” Bernani told me. “They described my body in front of a million cameras.”

Of the fifteen women listed as victims of Bouachrine, two former employees of his have been willing to share their stories with the press. They describe their boss keeping them in the office late and making unwanted physical advances. During the trial, which was not open to the public, Bernani says that she and four other women denied being harassed at all, while four women testified against Bouachrine. Other women who had been listed as victims didn’t appear in court. Bernani and other witnesses had to be dragged to court; at one point she hid at a friend’s house, and the police cut the water and electricity to force them out. Another witness was arrested and forced to appear after being found hiding in the trunk of a car.

Bouachrine was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Since then, two other journalists at Akhbar al-Youm have been prosecuted for alleged sexual misconduct. In 2019 Moroccan police arrested a young female reporter named Hajar Raissouni as she left her gynecologist’s office. Raissouni, who was about to get married, was accused of having sex outside marriage and of having an abortion. Her doctor, her fiancé, and other staff at the clinic were arrested along with her. She was forced to undergo a gynecological examination and to answer questions about her sex life. Raissouni had been covering the Hirak movement in northern Morocco. She also comes from a political family: her cousin Youssef is secretary-general of AMDH; her uncle Souleiman Raissouni is the editor of Akhbar al-Youm; another uncle is a prominent Islamist. Raissouni was convicted but pardoned by the king after a domestic and international outcry. She and her husband live in Sudan now; in a recent interview, she said of her forced exam: “I was raped by the Moroccan state.”

In that interview, Raissouni noted that she left the country because she was afraid “of the Moroccan state’s revenge,” but that “now it’s my uncle’s turn.” After Bouachrine’s arrest, Souleiman Raissouni took over as possibly the country’s most read and most daring op-ed writer. He called out by name Abdellatif Hammouchi, the country’s “super-cop,” head of both the national security and the domestic intelligence agencies and one of the most powerful figures in the country. In an editorial in May 2020 he criticized the security-minded response to the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that more people had been arrested for violating the curfew in Morocco than had been tested for the disease.

In May Raissouni was arrested based on a Facebook post written by Adam Mohamed, the pseudonym of a young LGBTQ activist. The post does not name Raissouni but gives enough details to make his identity clear. The young man got to know Raissouni’s wife, Khouloud Mokhtari, when she was doing preliminary interviews with him for a documentary film; he claims Raissouni tried to sexually assault him in 2018 in the couple’s home. Like Radi, Raissouni was held in detention for months before his trial, which just began, on charges of rape, kidnapping, and offense to public decency. Also, like Radi, the “slander press” had long hinted at scandals and sexual crimes that were about to be unveiled. Radi was accused in an article of being a rapist a month before the alleged assault on Boutahar. ChoufTV threatened Raissouni with arrest days before it happened—and was there to film it when it did.

The Moroccan authorities, Bernani says, have figured out that to accuse someone of a sex crime is an effective “symbolic assassination.” It strips its targets of international solidarity and makes them pariahs in their own communities, shunned by friends and family who are either embarrassed or afraid to be associated with them. Bernani knows this firsthand. After she accused the police of falsifying her statement, she was countersued for defaming the police and sentenced to six months in jail. Her involvement in the trial left her isolated, she says, as friends and family cut off contact with her. “I knew if I went to jail, no one would visit me,” she told me. She fled to Tunisia, where she resides today. “Nobody should come and claim that the state is defending women. It only defends its own political interests,” Bernani told me. “It uses women’s bodies.”

Both Egypt and Morocco present themselves in Western capitals as defenders of women’s rights. President Sisi recently raised the quota of seats reserved for women in the senate from ten to twenty, and in 2018 Morocco passed a new law on violence against women, which critics say is largely cosmetic because it specifies few mechanisms, standards, or resources to facilitate actual reporting. Both regimes also present themselves as bulwarks against Islamic extremism and as modernizing governments that must appease the conservative tendencies of their societies.

But in the cases described above, women and men have been targeted and failed not by Islamists or society but by state institutions. Autocratic, paternalistic, paranoid regimes don’t act as a brake on misogyny; more often than not they are imbued with it, and they manipulate it as a way to maintain their authority. Selective prosecutions, accompanied by smear campaigns in government-controlled media and leaks of private information obtained through surveillance, amount to a weaponization of sexual shame and social stigma. When authoritarian states treat women in rape cases as suspects or pawns, forcing them to shut up or to speak up: they undermine trust in the legal system. This lack of impartiality and credibility is to the detriment of both accusers and accused, and to the fight against sexual violence generally (including within activist and progressive circles, where it is as called for as anywhere, and where the issue has been legitimately raised in recent years).

This is the point being made by Khmissa, a new Moroccan feminist collective that calls for defending both women’s rights and political freedoms. Its founding statement is signed by Bernani, Hajar Raissouni, and other prominent Moroccan women activists and artists. It begins:

As Moroccan women, we strongly condemn all forms of sexual violence. We call for the end of impunity for those implicated in cases of rape, harassment, and abuse: they are not above the law.

We also condemn the politicized instrumentalization of women’s bodies and their rights to attempt to settle scores with critics of the state.

To speak out like this now takes particular courage. But Samia Errazouki, a friend of Radi’s who previously worked as a journalist in Morocco and also signed the statement, says she had no choice: “We have all experienced sexual violence in some way, shape, or form. We cannot rely on the state to carry out justice on our behalf.”

—March 11, 2021

An earlier version of this article misidentified Khouloud Mokhtari, Souleiman Raissouni’s wife.