Hundreds Of Women Report Rape By Gadhafi's Forces

A survey of 59,000 Libyan refugees confirms reports that rape is being used as a weapon of war by Gadhafi's forces. Psychologist Dr. Seham Sergewa was treating children affected by the conflict when several mothers told her they were raped. She added a question about sexual violence to a survey she distributed in refugee camps and 259 women came forward with similar stories. From the Associated Press:

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 Qadaffi'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."

Another woman in Misrata said she was raped in front of her four children after Qadaffi fighters burned down her home.

None of the women were willing to prosecute their attackers or speak to the press, even if their identities weren't published. Sergewa says some of the women are suffering from psychosis, depression, and suicidal thoughts as result of their ordeal. She added:

"They are using rape not just to hurt women but to terrorize entire families and communities ... The women I spoke to say they believed they were raped because their husbands and brothers were fighting Qadaffi. I think it is also to put shame on the tribes or the villages, to scare people into fleeing, and to say: 'We have raped your women.'"

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