by Amelia // 30 March 2011, 12:51
I posted this before realising Jolene had just put up a post on the same subject, but since we both provide different information and links I'll leave this up unless moderators wish otherwise.
Warning: This post may be triggering for discussion of rape.
This story of a woman raped has been in the Metro for the last couple of days (spot the early morning commuter) and is getting a lot of attention around the world. Why? 1) Because the alleged perpetrators are 15 men in Gaddafi's militia who the woman claims raped her over two days, and 2) the woman in question burst into a Tripoli hotel at breakfast time to cry out her story to foreign journalists - before being covered up and dragged away.
She was a clearly distraught woman who burst into the restaurant as we were having breakfast and shouted, lifting her skirt to show lacerations on her thighs.
“Look what [Muammer] Gaddafi has done to me,” she shrieked. [...]
Hearing the disturbance, a group of waiters and waitresses came over and tried at first to soothe her, then, when that did not work, to shut her up.
Suddenly a melee broke out between journalists and hotel staff. A group of athletic leather-jacketed men barrelled in and began throwing us around the room, chasing Ms Obeidi around the restaurant and finally putting a coat over her head. Many of the journalists at the Rixos jumped into the fray, trying to protect her, but it was a battle we were certain to lose.
It gets worse. The hotel staff weren't working for the hotel. The government is attempting to discredit al-Obeidi, apparently a lawyer, by stating she was drunk, mentally disturbed and a prostitute. The journalist who wrote the above article was deported for "inaccuracies" in his writing. The perpetrator is thought to be high-ranking, a cousin of Gaddafi's. The government claim she has in her sister's custody, but her family say she is being kept as a hostage while her family are coerced and bribed into pressuring her to retract her accusation. And, worst of all, now al-Obeidi faces criminal charges for her accusation.
Two points from the government's spokesman Mussa Ibrahim:
"The boys she accused of rape are making a case against her because it's a grave offence to accuse someone of a sexual crime." [...] On Tuesday, he expressed frustration at repeated questions about the Obeidi case when, as he put it, Libya is facing daily air strikes in which civilians are being killed and injured.
It's a grave offence to accuse someone of a sexual crime. Civilians are being killed and injured. Women do not count. Not an unfamiliar message, but to be illustrated so blatantly is horrific.
I cannot imagine the sheer courage it must have taken for al-Obeidi to go to such lengths to make sure her story is heard. My thoughts are with her and her family, and I hope she emerges from this safely.