Five years ago, Fatima (at tender age of 16) was sexually assaulted in her home by her uncle. At first, she was silent about the episode. “Shocked and afraid, I couldn’t discuss it to family or anybody I knew,” she felt.
Finally, Fatima found the courage to tell her mother about the rape. “After a few weeks of agonising in silence, I decided to tell my mother. My mother began to suspect that I was pregnant. My mother was infuriated, asking me who the perpetrator of this monstrous act was. When she discovered the truth, she was in utter disbelief. She was appalled at the thought of what my family and neighbours would say if they found out,” Fatima said.
Fatima’s mother sent her away to another town to stay with a friend, in order to hide her pregnancy and avoid disclosing her daughter’s rapist, “I found shelter and a welcoming home,” she narrated. But, Fatima was keen to abort the fetus. “I was determined to get an abortion and be free of the burden, weighing me down mentally and socially. I decided to ask the woman for help.”
In Morocco, the abortion laws are restrictive, her mother’s friend could only suggest dangerous, and… illegal means of terminating her pregnancy.
Besides struggling with the trauma of rape, feeling abandoned by family and friends, she now had to turn to illegal and risky methods to abort. Fatima was made to drink medicinal herbs which resulted in haemorrhaging. During one of these (abortion) efforts, Fatima experienced serious pain and bleeding, leading her to be taken to the hospital urgently. Before the medical abortion took place, Fatima faced judicial and administrative difficulties. At this stage her life was already in danger.
Before Fatima broke her silence, she went into depression. She sought help from the AMPF (Association Marocaine de Planification Familiale). There I was taken care of, provided with counselling sessions and directed to helpful resources,” Fatima said. She was empowered to put this ordeal behind her. She moved away from her family, so she could avoid seeing her uncle, the rapist, who still visited her parents.
Fatima found a small room to rent and now she is working on a farm as a packer. AMPF is still helping Fatima move on from her experience, so that she can live a peaceful life. AMPF are also helping her get legal justice for the crime committed against her.