by Reta Raymond
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
TRIPOLI, Libya – Rebel forces in Libya recently produced a cell phone video to CNN depicting a woman being raped and sodomized by a man that the rebels believe is one of Gadhafi’s soldiers. The video has not been authenticated independently. While the man seen in the video is not dressed in uniform, both he and the cameraman have a distinct Tripoli accent. Much of the fighting between Gadhafi’s forces and the resistance has taken place in Tripoli, supporting the allegation that the men in the video are Gadhafi’s soldiers. Rebel forces claim they have confiscated numerous cell phone videos of women being raped and tortured.
Rebel spokesman Abdullah al-Kabeira says rape has been “used as a weapon of war, because it [is] systematic.” However, the Libyan government has vigorously denied the allegations of rape used as a war tactic, as Prime minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi stated “th[ese], like the other mercenaries lies, are false.”On 26 March, Libyan law student Iman al-Obeidi reported to international journalists at a hotel in Tripoli that she had been raped by soldiers from Gadhafi’s regime. Investigations have since been initiated by the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) at the Hague, to determine whether the use of rape in Libya’s conflict warrants a war crimes tribunal.
The ICC also believes that drugs, such as Viagra, were provided to troops to encourage rape. ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said that the investigation was still ongoing, but “the victims are coming forward.” Libyan psychologist Siham Serewa found that 5 percent of the 50,000 surveyed refugees in camps report they had been raped.
Additionally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has expressed her concern. Clinton stated “Gadhafi’s security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms.”
In Libya rape is particularly effective because both the woman, her family and sometimes an entire village are dishonored by the rape. Those women who are impregnated by their rapist are sometimes subject to “honor killings” by their fathers. Hana Elgadi, an aid worker, says that the killings are motivated by a sense of love for their daughters, stating “[The fathers] believe they are saving the girl.” The shame imposed on the family by society is so great that rebel forces have allegedly destroyed the confiscated rape videos to protect the victims and their families.
For more information, please see;
BBC –Libya rape victims face ‘honor killings’ – 14 June, 2011
BBC – Libya: Clinton condemns rape as a weapon of war – 17 June, 2011
CNN – Libyan rebels say captured cell phone videos show rape, torture – 17 June, 2011
CNN – Libyan government denies rape allegations – 18 June, 2011