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Libyans keen on pursuing Qaddafi loyalists for sex crimes

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A Libyan girl’s voice stumbled in sadness and disbelief as she narrated how she was kidnapped and raped.

“A man came and handcuffed me,” the girl who wished to remain anonymous told Al Arabiya TV. “He blindfolded me and took me away in a car to an unknown destination,” she said through her sobs.

“Whatever I say cannot accurately describe what I have been through,” she added.

While the girl stopped short of describing her rape, it was clear that she had endured a great trauma. All over the world, rape victims find it difficult to talk about their experience but in the Arab world, it is often more difficult as women fear being ostracized from their conservative communities.

However, in the girl’s hometown of the Mediterranean city of Zawara, 100 kilometers from Tripoli, Libyans seem determined to nab the men accused of raping women.

“Cases of rape in Libya are not public information,” said Rabab who is a lawyer and activist, and is following up on rape cases.

“Only the defense lawyer, the attorney general, and the prosecutor specializing in the investigation are familiar with rape cases,” she added.

According to a report by Al Arabiya, investigations have exposed names of those charged with rape and their names have been sent to the army council currently in charge of Zawara.

Faniroz, who spoke to Al Arabiya on camera, said that she was kidnapped for three days during which time she was not given any food or water. After suffering the ordeal, her testimony enabled law enforcement to trace one of her kidnappers, a loyalist to former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, who is now in prison.

Allegations of rape by Qaddafi forces came to the fore when a Libyan woman named Eman al-Obeidi stormed into a room full of journalists in Tripoli in March and said that she had been assaulted and raped by the strongman’s forces.

In a CNN interview, she described being gang-raped, beaten, and sodomized with a gun by forces loyal to the Qaddafi regime.

With the help of the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obeidi is now in the U.S. after spending 54 days in a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees facility in Romania when she arrived in June.

Obeidi’s may have been the most high profile rape case of the Libyan uprising but there are reportedly scores of other stories that have not made headlines.

On May, the International Criminal Court said that it will investigate reports that Qaddafi forces took Viagra pills as to help them rape women.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said he has evidence indicating hundreds of women were raped during the eight-month long Libyan civil war and has promised to examine allegations of crimes committed by all sides.

On Nov.2, he told Al Arabiya that he may charge Qaddafi’s spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, and others suspected of involvement in hundreds of rapes in Libya during this year’s conflict. The Hague-based court has already indicted Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity as well as other war crimes.

(Written by Dina al-Shibeeb)