Video of high school gang rape sparks protests in Chad
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When social media users started sharing a video showing five high schoolers from Chad gang raping their classmate, outrage spread across the central African nation. Our Observer says it's the first time that Chadians have held such large protests denouncing violence against women, though he says that high school students are raped all too often.
On February 8, 16-year-old Zouhoura was reportedly kidnapped and raped by five high schoolers. Two of the rapists were the sons of army generals, according to the local press. Zouhoura’s family tried to report the crime, without success. It wasn’t until a video of the crime was shared on Facebook five days later that there was a national cry for justice. The video has since been taken down.
On February 15, students organised protests outside of multiple high schools to demand “Justice for Zouhoura”. Some made signs saying “I am Zouhoura”. In the capital city of N’Djaména hundreds of people took part in a march organised by local organisations.
“A journalist published the video to expose the crime“
"Zouhoura explained [in a video published on social media and in the local press] that several boys at her school were mad at her because she had rejected their advances. To get revenge, they decided to kidnap her.
They forced one of her friends, who they had also raped, to bring Zouhoura to them by threatening to publish the video of her rape if she didn’t. The girl tricked Zouhoura into meeting the boys. They then kidnapped her and raped her and filmed the entire thing.
Students protesting. Photo published on social media.
When she finally got home, Zouhoura told her family what had happened. As she knew the identity of some of the boys, her father went to the police to report the crime. But the boys weren’t arrested.
The video of Zouhoura’s rape was making the rounds in several WhatsApp groups until Maïna, a journalist and activist in France who has a lot of followers in Chad, decided to publish the video online on Saturday, February 13. She said she wanted to expose the crime in order to put pressure on the government to open an investigation.
'In Chad, girls are raped and the crime is filmed every day'
Two of the rapists are the sons of generals, which could explain why there was a cover-up. Moreover, Zouhoura’s father is an opposition party leader, Mahmat Yesko Brahim, who Is president of the Mouvement Démocratique Africain (MDA). Several days before the attack, he announced that he was running for president in the elections to be held on April 10, 2016.
Protesters in from of Zouhoura's home in N'Djaména.
After the video was shared, her father later published a message on Facebook naming the perpetrators and asking people to delete the images of the rape in consideration for Zouhoura and her family. He also blamed authorities, saying that “in our country, where the justice is unjust, nothing is going to happen. We know this. The sons of these generals will not be condemned for this kidnapping.”
The rape could turn into a political scandal, but I don’t think that’s at the heart of the problem. What happened to Zouhoura happens all the time in Chad. Every day, girls are raped and the crime is filmed. Very often, the rapists tell the girl that if she presses charges, they will publish the photos and videos. Most of the time, the girls stay quiet.
On Sunday night, Zouhoura went on television to ask people to not protest. But we quickly learned that she had been forced to do so.
Screen grab from Zouhoura's television interview.
A few hours later, she published a video on social media actually asking people to protest.
#TCHAD #Scandale ZOUHOURA : "JE SERAIS TRÈS CONTENTE SI VOUS MANIFESTIEZ AUJOURD'HUI. MANIFESTEZ !!!"Posted by TCHAD TODAY on Monday, February 15, 2016
“Men are out there protesting; maybe this shows change”
So, on Monday, there were protests across Chad. There were also protests in other countries, especially in Niger, where there is a large population of Chadians who go there to study.
Zouhoura supporters in Niger. Photo published on social media.
Students in Senegal also protested.
These protests are really out of the ordinary. It is the first time that so many people have come out against violence against women. The protesters are demanding justice for Zouhoura, but also for all the other girls who are raped every day.
#TCHAD #Scandale UNE MARÉE HUMAINE A N'DJAMENA : DES MILLIERS DE MANIFESTANTS DEMANDENT JUSTICE POUR ZOUHOURAPosted by TCHAD TODAY on Monday, February 15, 2016
There were men out there protesting, which shows that it is the entire population calling for change and evolution in society and a halt to violence against women.
But the security forces were not happy about these protests. They used tear gas to break up the protest held in N’Djamena."
#URGENT LA POLICE A TUÉ UN MANIFESTANT PACIFIQUE Près du Lycée de la Liberté (N'Djamena), la police a tiré à balles réelles sur les manifestants pacifiques qui demandaient "Justice pour Zouhoura" : un mort et plusieurs blessés. L'activiste politique Abakar Assileck Halata appelle la Communauté internationale à condamner cette sanglante répression policière.Posted by TCHAD TODAY on Monday, February 15, 2016