Tunis | The rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman sparked a stir in Algeria, relaunching the debate on the death penalty on the one hand and on the urgency of the fight against violence against women on the other .
Chaïma’s body was found in early October, after her disappearance, at a deserted gas station in Thénia, near Boumerdès, east of Algiers. The girl was beaten and raped before being burned alive, according to local media.
The suspect, confessed, is being prosecuted for “rape and intentional homicide with premeditation and ambush using torture”.
It is, according to the mother of the victim, an old acquaintance of the family, against whom the young girl had filed a rape complaint in 2016.
Chaïma’s death triggered a wave of indignation on social networks, where Internet users criticize a “villainous” crime and demand justice.
In memory of the victim, a message is widely shared on the web: “I am Chaïma, I was raped in 2016 and I had the courage to file a complaint in a conservative society. I am still Chaïma, it is 2020 and I was raped once again by the same rapist who stabbed and burned me. # JeSuisChaïma. ”
In a poignant video broadcast on social networks and taken up by local televisions, the mother of the victim, speaking directly to the Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, calls for the execution of the culprit.
Also on the internet, the debate on capital punishment is revived.
“The execution must be applied to the killer, to be an example for all those who think of the same action”, “We must open the debate on the death penalty, the monster who killed her has no place in society or in prison ”, urge Internet users on Twitter.
However, the questioning of the moratorium on executions, applied in Algeria since 1993, divides society.
“The death penalty is not a deterrent. It is discriminatory and does not protect the most vulnerable people, ”Hassina Oussedik, Amnesty International director for Algeria, told AFP.
“It is not by demanding the death penalty that we will do him justice. Rather, it is the laws that must be changed and applied, ”argues Algeria Feminicides, a Facebook account that compensates for the lack of official statistics by monitoring the issue.
Algeria Feminicides has so far identified 38 feminicides for the year 2020 alone, around sixty in 2019.
“Break the silence”
“We have to change mentalities and the judicial system for the psychological and legal care of victims. Launch national awareness-raising campaigns, open listening and accommodation centers and train the various institutions, ”advocates Ms. Oussedik.
“The infamous murder of Chaïma Saadou is added to a long list of feminicides, which continues to grow in front of the complicit silence, the justification of violence and the absence of real measures”, reacted the Free Collective and independent of the women of Bejaïa (north-east).
In order to “break the silence”, the collective calls for demonstrations on Thursday, October 8 in Bejaïa.
The spirit of solidarity has spread to other cities, in particular to Oran, Constantine, Tizi Ouzou. In Algiers, the Algerian Women’s Collective for a Change for Equality organized a rally the same day in front of the central faculty to “denounce the heinous crimes of Chaïma, Ikram, Amira, Asma, Razika and the 38 women (victims of feminicide) of the year 2020 ”.
President Tebboune on Sunday ordered the application of maximum penalties, without the possibility of relief or pardon, against the perpetrators of crimes of kidnapping people “whatever the ins and outs”.
In neighboring Tunisia, the recent murder of a young woman has also rekindled the debate on the death penalty. President Kais Saied spoke out last week in favor of the execution of the alleged murderer, questioning the moratorium observed for thirty years.
“It is the entire representation of women in the social imagination that we must reconstruct. I am against the death penalty. However, I call for a heavy sentence against the assassin of Chaïma ”, affirms an Internet user on Twitter.