Despite the brutality of the regime, one woman yesterday was prepared to risk everything to get her message out to the wider world.
As foreign journalists sat down to breakfast in a Tripoli hotel, a well-dressed Libyan woman in her thirties charged into the dining room, crying out that Gadaffi’s militiamen had gang-raped her.
“They swore at me and they filmed me. I was alone. There was whisky. I was tied up. They peed on me. They violated my honour,” said Eman al-Obaidi, who said she had been arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli because she came from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
She pulled up her skirt, showing blood on one of her thighs. Obaidi said she had been held for two days and raped by 15 men. “Look at my face,” she cried. Both cheeks bore lacerations. “Look at my back, all my body is bruised.”
As she told her story, government minders and hotel staff tried to drag her away, attacking journalists who blocked them. One waitress, normally seen serving coffee with a smile, grabbed a knife and screamed at Obaidi: “You traitor! How dare you say that?”
Another minder pulled out a 9mm handgun. Obaidi was forced into a garden outside. “Leave me alone,” she shouted as a Libyan man tried to cover her mouth with his hand. She was then dragged to a parking lot and bundled into a white car. Security men said they were taking her to hospital. “They are taking me to jail,” she yelled. “They are taking me to jail.”
Moussa Ibrahim, the government’s spokesman, said later that there were serious allegations against five men, and that the woman had been given a lawyer. He added she showed no signs of being mentally deranged and promised the press would be invited to interview her in the coming days.