A survey carried out by the Mauritanian Association for the Health of the Mother and Child reveals that 40 percent of female prisoners in Mauritania are actually rape victims, who were arrested for getting pregnant outside of marriage.
Khady knew the man who waited outside her house one evening, followed her down a dark street and put his hand over her mouth. She had refused his offer of marriage several months before.
The assault that followed is a blur. The 26-year-old fell pregnant, and five months later she was jailed for breaking Mauritania’s law banning sex outside of marriage.
“They said I was guilty. I don’t know why,” she said at a centre for victims of rape in the capital, Nouakchott.
“I thought if I told the police what happened, they would put him in prison,” Khady, whose name has been changed for her protection, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Sex outside wedlock is by far the most common cause of incarceration for women in Mauritania, accounting for more than 40 percent of female prisoners, according to a survey by the Mauritanian Association for the Health of the Mother and Child.
About 50 women were locked up for “zina” or sex outside marriage in the main women’s prison in Nouakchott between July 2016 and June 2018, the rights group said. Read more