Tripoli: Since Iman al-Obeidi
burst into the hotel housing foreign journalists in Tripoli
and accused pro-Gaddafi militiamen of gang-raping her, she
says many people on the streets of the capital have recognized
her and praised her bravery. Even cab drivers have refused to
take her money to offer their support.
Recounting her story in graphic detail for the first
time alone with two female reporters, al-Obeidi claimed she
was brutalized for two days and wept as she recalled the
ordeal. She said she was repeatedly raped by 15 different men
one of them a cousin of Gaddafi who were drinking alcohol that
they sometimes poured in her eyes and in her vagina. She said
she was sodomized with a Kalashnikov rifle.
Al-Obeidi spoke to reporters from The Associated Press
and National Public Radio from her home. It was a rare
interview without Libyan government minders, who keep almost
constant watch over the dozens of foreign journalists the
regime has invited in to cover its side of the uprising
against Gaddafi`s 42-year rule of this North African Arab
Al-Obeidi, 28, came to the attention of the world`s
press when she burst into the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on March
26 and told scores of foreign correspondents that she had just
escaped from a gang rape by drunken Gaddafi militiamen.
Visibly distraught, she claimed they had tied her up and
defecated and urinated on her and showed reporters scratches
on her face and a bloodied thigh.
As she tried to tell her story that first day,
government minders inside the hotel attacked her in a chaotic
scene where journalists tried to jump in and protect her, and
ended up getting punched themselves and having their equipment
smashed by the minders.
Al-Obeidi said after that, she was detained for three
days when she was beaten and left to lie on the floor with no
food or drink, then released. Since then, she has been living
with a friend in a modest apartment that her sister pays for.
She said she begins every day the same way by going to
the prosecutor general`s office to follow up with her case.
But she is depressed because judicial officials not only
ignore her pleas, but have turned the case on its head and
accused her of committing a crime by naming her attackers.
Her body still bears scars of violence, fading bruises
on her upper arms, scratches on her thighs and her eyes are
bloodshot from crying. During the interview, she was casually
dressed without her veil in a red striped T-shirt and beige
Bermuda shorts, her hair tied back with a flowered clip. Her
face was sober, and she wringed her hands as she spoke.
Al-Obeidi has maintained that she was targeted by troops
because she is from the city of Benghazi, the de facto capital
of the opposition which took control of the eastern half of
the country shortly after the uprising against Gaddafi began