Rape during times of war is nothing new. If anyone has seen or remembers the movie “A town without pity”, it is a story about the rape of a German girl. The story happened at the end of the second world war. If my memory serves me correctly, the rapist was an American soldier. The Japanese took foreign women and turned them into “comfort women”, which means those women, during the second world war were used for sexual purposes.
The issue of rape in Libya came to the fore when a very brave woman by the name of Eman al-Obeidi pushed her way into the Roxson Hotel and told her story of being raped by a group of men at a checkpoint. It was extremely brave because in Libya you do not talk about such things. The regime intends to charge the woman for a variety of things including the claim that she was making a false claim (this is despite her visible injuries). She was dragged away from the hotel as if she was the criminal, and then Ibrahim Mousa who is in line to win the Baghdad Bob award for the most number of falsehoods amongst the spokesman in the Libyan regime claimed that she was a prostitute, and there were other lurid stories that were told. Eman al-Obeidi managed to escape from Libya and is now safe in another country (the last I heard she was in Romania). In Eman’s case, her mother and father are supporting her and they are proud of her for speaking about what happened. This is a far cry from the reality facing other victims of rape.
Whilst the media concentrate on Misrata, Benghazi and Brega, with mention of Zawiyah and other towns, very little is known about what is taking place in those border towns. We do not even know how many women and girls, as well as men and boys have been raped. The stories that are surfacing cannot be verified.
There is one story that has come from the BBC regarding this subject. Now I do disagree with the push for abortion that is running through the article. Abortion remains wrong because it is murder of the unborn. However, if the stories in the article are true, then it would amount to the possibility that the girls could be killed by their fathers because of the dishonour that has been placed upon the family. I am also very much against honour killings.
What the story brings out though, is that in the west of Libya, and especially in the areas close to the Tunisian border these people are extremely conservative. The women cover their faces when they go out. To them, being brought up in a family raised on this level of conservatism, to be raped in front of father and brother, brings about enormous shame. One would hope that the members of the family would be supportive in such circumstances.
The story also mentioned Daffy soliders doing the same at girls schools, choosing the most attractive to rape. In such circumstances those young girls would be devastated (if it is true).
If the stories are true, it has taken rape during a war to a whole new level, and yes, it is a war crime to treat women (men and boys as well) in that fashion. One thing that came out in the story is that the Libyan soldiers would not participate in such an atrocity, but the mercenaries from Malia, Chad and other African countries were given the viagara and told to rape the women, girls, men and boys.
When Gadhafi finally faces the ICC for his crimes against humanity in Libya all of this will come out in the wash. Until then I will keep an open mind as to the actual level of the rapes that have been perpetrated.