The abduction and rape of a three-year-old girl in Iraq's Mosul sent shockwaves through the Arab world earlier this week.
The victim, a child named Noor, was kidnapped while playing outside her family home. Speaking to media outlets, Mosul police officer Colonel Mazen Abdullah shared details of the horrific crime.
"Noor was standing outside her house when she was approached by a man carrying a bag of candy. He then dragged her to an abandoned house near her neighborhood in Mosul. He tied her hands and then committed the crime," he said.
The young victim was transferred to a hospital shortly after she was found at the crime scene. She has since underwent critical treatment and two surgeries.
The 39-year-old perpetrator, who is a married father of three, was arrested an hour and a half after committing the crime and confessed to raping the little girl.
His case will now be referred to Iraq's Criminal Court and he is set to face a trial.
According to The National, the victim's family wants her rapist to be sentenced to death and is demanding a public execution.
In a statement to press, Noor's grandfather threatened the family will act if justice isn't served in the case. "If our demands are not met, we will retaliate," he said.
News of the crime made headlines across the Arab world and sparked outrage among thousands who are also calling on Iraqi authorities to take strict action against the perpetrator.
In recent years, Iraq recorded a rise in sexual assaults against children
According to the Iraqi Human Rights Committee, Abuse against children has become widespread in the country in the past few years. This is especially true in areas previously ruled by the so-called Islamic State (IS).
The UN Population Fund also reported that "the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse in Iraq increased during times of crisis."
In their report, the fund explained that "community protection is disrupted when populations are displaced, and the breakdown of law enforcement enables perpetrators to abuse with impunity."
Speaking to The National, Zeina Awad, Iraqi spokeswoman for the UN children's agency explained that though war has largely ceased in the country, "80 per cent of all Iraqi children continue to experience violence at home or in school."
She also stressed the dire need for child protection services to be more available across Iraq and especially in areas that have witnessed extreme violence during the country's turbulent years of war.