In the early days of the Libya rebellion, the fatigue-clad, heavily made-up women that surrounded Muammar Qaddafi became a source of international amusement. But Qaddafi's eccentricity could distract from the brutality, including with those same bodyguards, several of whom have now told a Benghazi psychologist that they were repeatedly raped by the dictator and his sons.
In an interview with the Sunday Times of Malta, Seham Sergewa described the accounts of five former bodyguards she came across when trying to investigate claims of Viagra-aided mass rape by soldiers. One "was told ‘you either become a bodyguard or your brother will spend the rest of his life in prison,'" and then, before being brought to Qaddafi, told she had to take a medical test, including for HIV. According to The Times,
A pattern emerged in the stories. The women would be first raped by the dictator and then passed on, like used objects, to one of his sons and eventually to high-ranking officials for more abuse before eventually being let go.
In the now-abandoned quarters of CNN correspondents also came upon another direct victim of the family: the nanny to the family of Qaddafi's son Hannibel. "Nothing prepared me for the moment I walked into the room to see Shweyga Mullah," wrote the reporter of the Ethiopian nanny, who had been brutally burned and tortured by Qaddafi's daughter in law Aline. "At first I thought she was wearing a hat and something over her face. Then the awful realization dawned that her entire scalp and face were covered in red wounds and scabs, a mosaic of injuries that rendered her face into a grotesque patchwork." Much of the Qaddafi family has been confirmed to be in Algeria, including Hannibel and family, although the dictator himself is still missing.
Women were also forcibly recruited into the loyalist army; the government's spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, had announced, "We are going to make sure that every mother, the symbol of love and creation, is a bomb, a killing machine."