The rape of Libya

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It’s unlikely we’ll see a more discouraging headline today than this one from the Daily Mail:


Father slit throats of three daughters in ‘honour killing’ after they were raped by Qaddafi’s troops

The story was lifted from a deeper report into human rights violations in Libya published by the group, Physicians for Human Rights. You can find the full report here.

It apparently occurred in Misrata, just as rebels were ousting the forces of Col. Qaddafi. Several of the reports of atrocities come from a resident identified only as Mohamed.


Mohamed regularly passed Alwadi Alahdar elementary school on one of Tomina’s rural roads enroute to the front line. Mohamed reported that he heard the cries of women and girls on several occasions while passing the school. He reported seeing tanks and other military vehicles at this school in April 2011. On one occasion, in the quiet of the night, he heard drunken laughter through the open windows of the school building. He heard women cry out in pain and a man yell, “Shut up you dogs!”

Mohamed is convinced that Qaddafi troops forcibly detained these women and girls and gang raped them. He said he heard directly from five separate male heads of nearby households and close friends that some of their daughters and wives had been raped by Qaddafi forces.

One father confided in Mohamed that his three daughters aged 15, 17, and 18 had gone missing after Qaddafi troops arrived in Tomina. They returned to the family in late April and told their father that they had been raped in the Alwadi Alahdar elementary school for three consecutive days. In what is known as an “honor killing,”96 Mohamed related to PHR investigators, this father slit each of his daughters’ throats with a knife that day and killed them.

Mohamed also noted that some in Tomina have stood up against this practice, including a well-known Sheik who has publicly advocated for raped women and girls to be seen as brave and bringing honor to their families.

Another long-time Tomina resident and mother of three corroborated these “honor killings”97 and estimated that Qaddafi forces had raped at least 50 women and girls from the small village of Tomina. She told PHR investigators that military wearing green uniforms “took men and women away and did bad things to them.” One of her neighbors reported that while her husband was away fighting on the front line, she was alone with her 15-year-old daughter. A group of military in green uniforms forcibly moved in to her home and made her cook for them. They took her daughter into the front room of the house and repeatedly raped her for days. When rebel forces took control of Tomina on 12 May 2011, the daughter was found mute and nearly dead. The mother reported that she suffered recurrent nightmares, insomnia, and flashbacks. She exhibited pressured speech and hypervigilance while recounting these recent events.

The report says Libyan women will not go to a gynecologist, and indicates that Qaddafi used rape as a weapon, knowing that they would be followed by honor killings.

“If Qaddafi destroys a building, it can be rebuilt. But when Qaddafi rapes a woman, the whole community is destroyed forever. He knows this, and so rape is his best weapon,” an informant said.

Libyan law considers honor killing a crime, but the practice has a strong foothold in the country, citing reduced sentences for those convicted of so-called honor killings compared to other forms of murder,” the report from the Boston-based group said.

(Photo: Libyan pupils sing the new national anthem at Takadoum school on July 2, 2011 in the Libyan port city of Misrata. Photo by Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)

  • matt

    Qadaffi should burn in hell. But I am willing to wager at least one of the rebels found time to rape on the march to Tripoli. Once the new government is formed there will be a new command structure that feeds on the powerless and more violence will come. Wealth and power do not corrupt just Colonels.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Honor killing, the throwing of acid on women and girls and clitorectomies are examples of the stone age behaviors of Islamic fundamentalists that are brutally inhuman – not just “culturally different”.

    If I thought it was possible to eliminate the people who carry out these unspeakable acts as part of their culture, (without making matters worse), I would applaud our military presence in Afghanistan, and any and every other Islamic fundamentalist country.

    (Sometimes it’s hard to be a pacifist. :-)

  • John O.

    Anyone who thinks for a nanosecond that the “liberation” of Libya is somehow going to magically transform the country into a democratic society is sadly mistaken.

    Jim covers the remainder of the argument (from my perspective) very nicely.

  • Jamie

    For me too. Thanks, Jim.

    I also don’t expect much to change in either Egypt or Libya.