Did anyone think that things would turn out well for the poor Libyan woman, Iman al-Obeidi, who claimed she was gang raped by 15 members of Moammar Gahdhafi’s troops? When the distressed and agitated young woman was dragged out of the hotel (where foreign journalists are sequestered), after she tried to tell the reporters of her plight, she was shoved into a car and whisked away. The government first tried to blame the woman’s agitation and claims of having been raped on alcohol or mental illness. Then they announced they would investigate the woman’s claim. Now the latest news, according to her parents, is that Iman is “a hostage, taken by the tyrants, ” being held against her will in Gadhafi’s compound.
Her mother told Al-Jazeera that the government has lied about several things including government claims that her daughter is a prostitute (she’s actually a lawyer) and that she was released soon after the fracas at the hotel. According to the mother, an anonymous caller phoned to offer freedom and other goodies for Iman, if she just dropped the rape charges. “Whatever you ask for, you will get: build a new house or get the money,” As if a house could compensate a woman who had been gang raped and violated. Bribery at its best. And although Ibrahim Moussa, official government spokesman, said that Iman had been released (in spite of claims she was a prostitute) and in spite of the fact that government officials also claimed they were looking into “a criminal case” against 4 of the men that allegedly raped her, things took a twisted though not unexpected turn. For the worse. The men, one of whom is the son of Libyan high-ranking official, have now turned around and are suing Iman- for defamation. Ibrahim, who obviously lied about Iman being safe with her sister in Tripoli, now claims she is being “questioned by the police“, and that “The accuser has now become the accused,” ‘The boys she accused are bringing a case against her because it’s a very grave offence to accuse someone of a sexual crime.” So this poor woman, as is often the case in Muslim countries, is being victimized not once (being raped) but twice (by being sued).
I have no doubt in my mind that she was raped, and is suffering the terrible consequences of bringing the rape to the media. Apparently she had been at a protest with other female lawyers, in the city of Zawiya, when they were all detained. According to her cousin Wadad Omar, no-one knows the whereabouts of the other women.
What happened to Iman after she was detained is a horror story. She told reporters at the hotel that the the soldiers were drinking and then she was raped, by 15 of them. “They tied me up … they even defecated and urinated on me.” And the treatment she got at the hotel was just as outrageous. One would think that her fellow Libyans would try to comfort her, but the waiters and waitresses (probably government minders) were just as abusive. She was told to shut up, called a traitor, one waitress pulled a knife on her, a government minder grabbed for his gun, another waitress shoved something over her head, she was dragged and pushed, while journalists tried to help her to no avail. All the while she tried to appeal to their humanity: “We’re all Libyan brothers, we are supposed to be treated the same, but this is what the Gadhafi militiamen did to me, they violated my honor.”
What amazes me is the brazen manner in which Iman was treated. The fact that this was broadcast for the world to see did not seem to matter. But, then again, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised given who has been leading Libya for all these decades.
Sources: DailyMailUK, MSNBC