Court Rejects ‘It’s His Culture’ Defence for Migrant Child Rapist

A picture of the front façade of Cholet's courtroom.
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A French court has convicted a 30-year-old migrant of raping a 12-year-old boy after his lawyer had tried to convince the court that the Afghan’s culture should have been taken into consideration.

Mohammed Rahman Arsala was sentenced to 15 years for raping a 12-year-old boy in an abandoned house on August 25th, 2018, in the centre of the town of Saint-Brieuc, not far from a playground where the child had been heading before he was taken and raped.

According to a report from Le Telegramme, the migrant’s lawyer attempted to claim that the Afghan’s culture had to be taken into consideration, noting the cultural practice of “Bacha Bazi”, a form of pederasty where men turn young boys into sex slaves.

“And yet we must take into account the cultural element,” the defence layer claimed and added: “Because we are all the product of [cultural] standards, of a background. And he was born 100 kilometres [60 miles] from Kabul.”

The court also heard the migrant claimed the child had consented to be raped because the boy had followed him, also alleging that the incident would not have occurred if he had had a wife to satisfy his sexual urges.

The Afghan testified in court that he regretted the incident but also claimed that he had served too much prison time and that he was a victim of “ill-treatment”. He claimed that he was willing to sign a document promising not to repeat his actions.

Despite calls for cultural context, the court found there Afghan guilty of raping the 12-year-old boy and sentenced the paederast to 15 years in prison, after which he will be deported from France.

The case is not the first in which a migrant accused of rape has attempted to claim either ignorance of the law or claimed cultural elements for their actions.

In 2018, a Syrian migrant accuse of raping a 12-year-old twice told a Swedish court that he did not know his actions were illegal. Despite being found guilty, he was sentenced to just six months as he was a minor at the time of the incidents.

A year later, another migrant admitted to having raped an underage girl but also claimed that no one had taught him what the laws in Sweden were, and a representative for the migrant argued the prosecution should have been dropped.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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