Hundreds of Women: Gadhafi Forces Raped Us

Doctor hands out survey in refugee camps; 259 women report being raped
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 30, 2011 11:23 AM CDT
Updated May 30, 2011 11:29 AM CDT
Hundreds of Women: Gadhafi Forces Raped Us
Dr. Suleiman Refadi stands to be photographed at the public hospital where he works in Ajdabiya, Libya. Refadi said he has treated three women who said they were raped by Gadhafi fighters in March.   (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

The head of the International Criminal Court has said Moammar Gadhafi's forces have been using Viagra "like a machete" to rape women—and now Libyan women are confirming such suffering. Two months ago, a doctor who had been working with children traumatized by the fighting in Libya encountered a new kind of victim: The mother of one of the kids she was treating told her she had been raped. Two more women told Dr. Seham Sergewa the same thing shortly after. So Sergewa decided to add a question about rape to the survey she was distributing to Libyans living in refugee camps. And 259 all said the same thing: They had been raped by militiamen loyal to Gadhafi in towns across the country, from Benghazi to Brega to Ajdabiya to Misrata.

Some just said they had been raped. Some did not sign their names; some just used their initials. But some felt compelled to share the horrific details of their ordeals on the back of the questionnaire. Reading from the scribbled Arabic on the back of one survey, Sergewa described one woman's attack in Misrata in March, while it was still occupied by Gadhafi's forces. "First they tied my husband up," the woman wrote. "Then they raped me in front of my husband and my husband's brother. Then they killed my husband." Sergewa said she has interviewed 140 of the rape survivors in various states of mental anguish, and has been unable to persuade a single victim to prosecute. None would speak to the AP about her ordeal, even with a promise to hide her identity. (Read more Moammar Gadhafi stories.)

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