Rape victim brutally attacked in her home [Archives:2008/1164/Front Page]

June 16 2008

Amel Al-Ariqi
AMRAN, June 15 ) A 12-year-old female rape victim was attacked by unidentified people on Saturday in her home, leaving her with serious head cuts.

Sowsan Al-Madhlai , who gained public attention in 2006 when she accused a 60-year-old influential sheikh in her area of kidnapping and raping her, was attacked with a sharp tool – possibly an ax- leaving deep wounds on her head, said Amel Al-Basha, chairwoman of the Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, who adopted Sowsan's case from the beginning.

Sowsan wasn't the only victim of the attack, as her six-year-old sister Fatehia, four-year-old cousin Noor and grandmother were also injured and taken to Amran hospital.

According to Mahmoud Taha, a reporter in Amran, one of Sowsan's relatives came back from the farm when he found his sisters lying on the floor, at which point he ordered a car to take them to the hospital. The hospital is an hour and a half away from Sowsan's house.

“We don't have much information so far. We know that Sowsan and her relatives were attacked on Saturday by unknown men who broke into their house afternoon while they [Sowsan and her relatives] were playing in their yard,” said Al-Basha. She did not dismiss the idea that the attackers are connected to the sheikh who was released by the primary court in June 2007 due to lack of evidence, though the Amran hospital's medical report proved the rape incident.

Sowsan, supported by human rights organizations, appealed the verdict. “The area where Sowsan lives is very remote and few families live there, so recognizing the attackers will not be difficult,” said Al-Basha, adding that since the appeal case Sowsan and her family have been subjected to harassment by the sheikh and his followers.

Jamal Al-Shmai, Chairman of Democracy School, a local non-governmental organization that deals with children's rights, condemned the incident saying that the school will send one of its members to Amran to learn more information about the crime.

Security authorities refused to comment on the incident, saying that they will investigate the attack.