You may not recognize her name or her face, but you have probably heard at least a snippet of her story.
She is a Libyan postgraduate law student who attracted worldwide media attention on March 26, 2011 when she burst into the restaurant of the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli and told the international press corps staying there that 15 of Muammar Gaddafi’s government troops had detained her at a checkpoint, held her against her will for two days, beaten, and gang-raped her.
Her insistence on telling her story in public had the effect of challenging both the Qaddafi government and the taboo that surrounds discussion of sex crimes in that country.
In an April 4 article in the New York Times, reporter David Kirkpatrick provided this insight into rape in Qaddafi’s Libia.
Under the Qaddafi government, judges hearing rape claims often impose a marriage between the victim and the rapist as a remedy for the woman’s dishonor. In other cases, the victim is sent to a center for “women who are vulnerable to engaging in moral misconduct,” and she is forbidden to leave until she is released by a husband or married.
Women in these facilities, which are called rehabilitation centers, are paired with men who come seeking wives based in part on docile behavior, one woman told Human Rights Watch, which sent researchers to two of the Libyan centers.
Yes, you read that correctly — in some cases of rape, the “solution” to the problem (which is, by the way, the dishonor of the woman’s family and not the behavior of the man) is to make the rapist and his victim get married.
I have no way to know whether Eman al-Obeidy’s story is true or not in specific, but a number of reputable human rights groups would confirm that her story is true time and again of woman in Libia. In the Democratic Republic of Congo. In more places than any of us want to imagine.
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.