Mauritanian women face prosecution for reporting rape
Women and girls in Mauritania who are raped are often unwilling to report the crime out of fear that they themselves will be jailed for breaking the country’s strict laws on sex outside marriage, Human Rights Watch has said.
In a report based on interviews with dozens of rape victims as well as NGOs and government officials, the rights group said Mauritian law as well as family and police hostility strongly discouraged them from denouncing their attackers.
The country’s legal code does not define rape or address the notion of consent, HRW said, and victims who cannot prove the assault risk being charged with zina, or sex outside marriage.
If convicted, the women face long prison terms and banishment by their family or community in Mauritania, one of the poorest countries in the world.
HRW added that testimony from at least five rape victims contradicted government claims that no reported rape cases had resulted in zina charges in recent years in the Sunni Muslim country.