Raped childhood, broken future by Yasmine Kassar, Tunisia

What is a 13-year-old girl supposed to do?

Most of you will say that she has to be at school, learning new subjects, new languages or historical events. Others will say she might be playing with other kids of her age in the courtyard, having fun and having nothing to worry about.
Some will say she’s at home, playing with her computer or reading a story.

We can all imagine different sort of activities a young 13-year old girl might be doing. But, can you imagine for a second a 13-year old girl pregnant and married to her rapist?
Can you even bear to imagine that utterly miserable situation?
No, you can’t, can you? Well, it is the sad truth. And it occurred few days ago in Kef, a city in the northwestern Tunisia.
A 13-year-old girl who I will call Ahlam to further protect what’s left of her privacy and dignity, was raped by a 20-year-old relative.

In Arabic, Ahlam means dreams, but this girl’s dreams have been taken away. She no longer dreams of having a future career as a doctor or an architect, she no longer dreams of falling in love with her prince charming and dressing up as a princess for her wedding. Ahlam will not dream anymore because her childhood has been taken away from her.

Article 227 (Law Number 1958, dated March 1958, and modified by the law Number 69-21 of March 1969, and Law Number 89-23 of February 1989) of the Tunisian Penal Code states that a sexual act without violence on a female child aged under fifteen years must be punished by imprisonment of six years.
However, the same article states that the marriage of the rapist with the victim ends the prosecution or the effects of the conviction.

We are all aware that in Islamic religion, having sexual relationships before the wedding is considered a dishonour, especially for women. So imagine having a 13-year old raped and pregnant daughter…

The circumstances of Ahlam’s rape have not been perfectly reported by the media but, what we are sure of that she was raped by a member of her family aged 20.
When her parents took her to the hospital and learned what happened, the first thought that crossed their minds is:” What will our neighbours think of us?”
They were ashamed by their raped daughter, they feared the society and its people and they didn’t for one second think about their daughter’s future.
Therefore, they decided to urge the wedding’s procedures and make their daughter forever in captivity of her rapist.

Ahlam, aged 13 years old, has been raped by her family, by the government who created the law that caused the article n°227 bis and by the society who authorizes that kind of inhuman and barbaric practice.
Ahlam and others like her will continue to be mistreated, raped and marginalized if we do no react against that law.
In a world full of catastrophe, terrorism and wars, we shouldn’t let innocence be taken away. We must conserve the bright side of the world; its children, its youth and its glimmer of hope.

The Civil Society in Tunisia is angry. Organisations of protection of the human rights and protection of the children are angry. Tunisian with an ounce of humanity are shattered by this.

So, let’s all protest that kind of abuse. Let’s all sign petitions against such laws. Let’s make our voices heard in order to save the youth of our country.

Your voice counts. Your signature matters.

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