Mauritania: New Report on Law that Punishes Survivors of Sexual Assault

A new report reveals that survivors of sexual assault in Mauritania often refuse to speak out afterwards due to fear of being charged with committing zina. Although the law defines zina as “consensual sexual relations outside of marriage,” activists report that survivors of sexual assault are still prosecuted. While zina is punishable by flogging or by death by stoning under Mauritania law, someone charged with zina faces a life sentence due to the national moratorium on capital and corporal punishment.

In addition to facing charges of zina, survivors who choose to speak out “must navigate a dysfunctional system that discourages victims from pressing charges, can lead to re-traumatization or punishment, and provides inadequate victim-support services.”

Compiled from: They Told Me to Keep Quiet” Obstacles to Justice and Remedy for Sexual Assault Survivors in Mauritania, Human Rights Watch (September 5, 2018).