Sexual Violence in Libya, the Middle East and North Africa
Secretary of State
The United States is deeply concerned by reports of wide-scale rape in Libya. Since Eman al Obeidi bravely burst into a hotel in Tripoli on March 26 to reveal that Qadhafi’s security forces raped her, other brave women have come forward to tell of the horrible brutality they have experienced. Recently, the International Criminal Court has taken note of the appalling evidence that rape in Libya is widespread and systematically employed. A thorough investigation of this matter is needed to bring perpetrators to justice.
We are also troubled by reports of sexual violence used by governments to intimidate and punish protestors seeking democratic reforms across the Middle East and North Africa. Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called “virginity tests” have taken place in countries throughout the region. These egregious acts are violations of basic human dignity and run contrary to the democratic aspirations so courageously expressed throughout the region.
Qadhafi’s security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms. It is an affront to all people who are yearning to live in a society free from violence with respect for basic human rights. We urge all governments to conduct immediate, transparent investigations into these allegations, and to hold accountable those found responsible.