The lawyer for an 11-year-old Moroccan girl, whose rapists received light sentences, on Wednesday appealed to the authorities to review laws protecting minors.
Speaking on the eve of a new appeal hearing, Mohamed Sebbar, said the “debate on the protection of minors against sexual violence” should be intensified.
The girl from a village near Rabat, who is now 12, was repeatedly raped over a period of several months by three men, which resulted in her falling pregnant.
"The girl is still very young, she doesn't know anything in life, she's just a child. For example, at the hospital, they didn't let her breastfeed the baby because she didn’t know how to," said activist Siham Dich
On 20 March, a court sentenced one of her three attackers to two years in prison, while the other two got 18 months each.
The ruling sparked outrage across the country with demonstrators last week rallying in the capital to denounce what rights groups have criticised as lenient punishment for the men.
A petition condemning the sentences received by the attackers, aged 25, 32, and 37, has amassed tens of thousands of signatures.
Morocco's penal code allows for prison terms of up to 30 years for the charges brought against the three accused, who were also ordered to pay a combined $4,900 in compensation.
Sebbar, the girl’s defence lawyer, said on Wednesday that the appeal hearing was due to continue on Thursday, and that a minor witness was expected to testify, probably behind closed doors.
"We hope that justice will be rendered but also that the debate on reforming legislation concerning the protection of minors will be stepped up," he said.
“Perhaps, this will be an opportunity to revise some laws, taking into account that parliament at its next session will discuss a revision to the penal code, presented by the government."
The media and NGOs in Morocco often sound the alarm in cases involving sexual violence against minors, calling for tougher penalties.