Musa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Libyan government, "expressed frustration" that he keeps being asked about Iman Obeidi, the woman who burst into a Tripoli hotel Saturday shouting about being gang-raped by Qaddafi thugs. But maybe that's because he's already expended so much energy lying about what happened to her.
First Ibrahim told reporters Obeidi was drunk and mentally ill. The same day he changed his story to say she was neither. By Sunday she was a whore and a thief. (A state TV announcer echoed that, calling her a "whore" who is "filled with hatred for her country"). Ibrahim also said she was free and back with her family; her family says she's still being held hostage on Qaddafi's compound, and that they've gotten calls trying to enlist them in changing her story.
So we'll take the latest statement from Ibrahim with a grain of salt. Today he told reporters that some of the men accused of raping Obeidi were suing her. Here are Ibrahim's own words:
"Oh, yeah, they have filed a case," the spokesman, Musa Ibrahim said. "The boys who she accused of rape are bringing a case because it is a very grave offense to accuse someone of a sexual crime."
Grave, indeed. As Time points out, while Obeidi's case is unusually public, prosecuting victims is a sadly common affair in Libya, citing a 2006 Human Rights Watch report saying the country discourages "rape victims from seeking justice by presenting the threat of prosecution of the victims themselves." And as the above report from Al Jazeera chillingly suggests, rape is already being used as a weapon of war, with doctors finding Viagra and condoms in the pockets of dead soldiers.
Obeidi's mother told Time "with a certain pride" that "Iman did not fear. Gaddafi is a butcher and a criminal." And to Al Jazeera: "I don't feel ashamed. Instead my head is up high," the mother told al-Jazeera, saying her daughter "broke the barrier that no other man could break."
Charles Clover, the Financial Times reporter who was wrestled to the ground and kicked out of the country for previous coverage, wrote about the breaking of that barrier:
All the careful efforts of the Libyan government to nurture their parallel reality were demolished that day. The hired mobs, the theatrical set pieces designed for foreign press consumption, and the alleged civilian casualties of the allied air campaign for which we have been shown little evidence – they all came crashing down, because of one woman's bravery and desperation."
Libyan Woman Sued Over Rape Accusation [NYT]
Lone, Brave Woman Exposes Truth Of Libya [FT]
The Rape of Iman al-Obeidi: The Libyan Regime's Other Crisis [Time]
Rape Claim Libyan Woman Held Hostage At Gaddafi Complex, Say Parents [Guardian]