A cautionary tale for those who expect respect for human rights to spring forth alongside democracy in Libya if we can just get that pesky weirdo of a dictator out of the way. A democracy is only as good as the values that inform its participants, and Tripoli, we have a problem. “Libya rape victims face ‘honour killings’,” by Pascale Harter for BBC News, June 14:
Libyan women and girls who become pregnant through rape risk being murdered by their own families in so-called “honour killings”, according to aid workers.
Rape is a sensitive topic worldwide, but in this country it is even more of a taboo.
“In Libya when rape occurs, it seems to be a whole village or town which is seen to be dishonoured,” says Arafat Jamal of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Libyan charities say they are getting reports that in the west of the country, which is particularly conservative, Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces have tended to rape women and girls in front of their fathers and brothers.
“To be seen naked and violated is worse than death for them,” says Hana Elgadi. “This is a region where women will not go out of the house without covering their face with a veil.”
Ms Elgadi is in a group of Libyan volunteers offering medical help and HIV tests. The organisation is also offering to pay for abortions for women who have been raped in the war.
‘Killing with love’
“Time is against us,” says Nader Elhamessi from the Libyan aid agency, World for Libya.
“For the moment pregnancies can be disguised, but not for much longer. Many fathers will kill their own daughters if they find out they have been raped.”
“It is killing done with love,” says Ms Elgadi. “They believe they are saving the girl.” [...]
Mr Jamal, the UNHCR’s emergency co-ordinator for Libya, says it has not so far uncovered evidence that rape has been used as a weapon of war, although it has seen evidence of individual instances of rape throughout the country.
“We have also seen evidence that would seem to suggest that rape has been carried out by both sides, but we cannot say on what scale,” he says….