Dozens of women took part in a sit-in against violence and disappearances in the Algerian city of Constantine to pay tribute to Amira Merabet who died earlier this month after being set on fire by a man she refused.
“We are outraged by this increasingly cruel behaviour and these reactions [that] seek to ‘victimise’ the killer by blaming the victim. Public space in Algeria becomes forbidden for women; [it is] a real jungle,” one of the protestors said.
In the statement read by Amel Hadjadj, one of the organisers of the sit-in, the group condemned the crime and the “patriarchal and unjust system suffered by women in Algeria”. They also called on the authorities to find the criminal responsible and to take exemplary measures against him.
The phenomenon of abductions and murders of women and children is increasing in Algerian society with judicial procedures failing in these cases leaving perpetrators unaccountable for their crimes. Instead of condemning the murderer, people often stigmatise the victim or her family.
“Yesterday it was Amira, and tomorrow it will be you or me,” read one poster at the protest which included academics, rights activists and young students angered by how certain violent acts are perceived.
Hadjadj condemned society’s double standards, “if we continue in this silence it will get even worse.”
Amira Merabet succumbed to her injuries earlier this month after being doused in gasoline and set alight. Her killer is still unknown.