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Gadaffi War, Children, Women Victims
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Gadaffi War, Children, Women Victims

Dr. Seham Sergewa came to Libya to study the effects of war on the women and children there. After distributing surveys to over 70,000 families, she quickly realized that the responses she was getting was only the tip of the iceberg. Of those families who received the questionnaire, 59,000 responded. Sergewa found 10,000 cases of post traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), 4000 children who have a variety of psychological problems, but what she did not expect to find or at least, did not expect to hear about, was cases of rape. Over two hundred women so far have come forward with their stories, some of them gut wrenchingly detailed, others the simple stark admission that they had been raped by troops that remain loyal to Momar Gaddhafi. All of them are very relevant and made more poignant by the conservative, Muslim culture they live in.

Rape has always become a part of war- a way of perpetrating further indignities on the people. In the past, the actions were almost always carried out by invading foreigners but there have been times when countries fight among themselves, making former neighbors suddenly bitter, blood seeking enemies. Rape is used not only as a way of controlling but of further defeating people, both male and female. Rape in the Congo, now being called one of the worst areas in the world for sex crimes, is often done in hopes of impregnating the woman. In Libya, it is done not only as an act of war but an attack on a woman that may cost her everything in the long run.

Dr. Sergewa and other psychologists believe that the number of women who have been violated in Libya is much higher but that other attacks may never be revealed. Doctors in Libyan hospitals say that they have heard rumors but few have seen any real rape cases and the ones that have treated the women have done so only for HIV testing. These doctors are not confident that the women will return for follow up testing as required or that they will say anything about their attack to anyone.

The question of rape was added to the questionnaire only after the first two women came forward to Dr. Sergewa. Since adding that question, she has had 259 women, in total who answered the question with a yes. Some marked the question but did not sign the form. Some signed the form with an initial only but others told their entire story. One woman reported that her husband and his brother were tied up by the Gaddhafi loyal militiamen and then she was raped while they were forced to watch. After raping her, the men were killed and she was left to deal with her shame. Another woman was raped in front of her four children and then her house burned down.

There is more than enough evidence that Gaddhafi’s regime has committed acts against humanity. There is more than enough for him to be removed from office and tried for his vicious acts. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor at the International Crimes Court in the Hague has said there is plenty of “strong evidence” of these crimes. For now, it is a waiting game but the ones who are losing are the women and children.


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