Horrific Libya Rape Story: Where is the "Freed" Victim?

The reading public was shocked this weekend--in the midst of the international military campaign against Libyan authorities--by video footage (below) of a distraught Libyan woman who burst into a hotel room in Tripoli filled with foreign journalist and decried a group of regime security forces who she says raped her brutally due to her identity card reading "Benghazi." The journalists were threatened by hotel staff and security forces, sometimes with weapons, when they tried to protect her.


She was forcibly hustled out while authorities said she was "fantasizing" and she then disappeared. Now, after the international outcry that was raised, Libyan authorities claim that the victim, Eman al-Obeidy, has been freed and a group of men, including the son of a prominent police chief, had been apprehended. At the same time, the authorities attempted to smear her honor,calling her a "prostitute" who was mentally-ill--her family points out that she is actually a law school graduate. We do not know what has happened to al-Obediy despite her alleged release, and journalists are demanding access to her.

At the Daily Beast, Eliza Griswold writes that this likely means rape is being used as a weapon of war in Libya, which has a history of mistreatment of women, including rape victims:

The real story here is the possibility that the Gaddafi regime is using rape as a crime of war against its political enemies. Al-Obeidi’s face was badly beaten. She had marks on her arms and legs from where someone had bound her, and her thigh and legs were scratched. Her story, with the quote she said the security forces had used—“we are all one people”—implies the targeted use of rape as a form of genocide, with the intent to wipe out those don’t support the Gaddafi family.

If you are as horrified by this story as we are, Change.org has a petition on al-Obeidy's behalf.

 UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, the victim's family tells Al-Jazeera she's still being held.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at March 28, 2011, 3:46am

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