Libyan Woman Disappeared? (UPDATED)

Eman al-Obeidy displayed a broad bruise on her face, a large scar on her upper thigh, several narrow and deep scratch marks lower on her leg, and marks that seemed to come from binding around her hands and feet. (Jerome Delay/AP)

Some very disturbing footage and developments out of Tripoli this Saturday.

Warning: This is a very grim story and the footage is raw.

The New York Times reports that a Libyan woman is dragged off by government officials as she tries to tell journalists that she had been tied up, urinated and defecated on, and raped by 15 of Gaddafi’s men:

TRIPOLI, Libya — A Libyan woman burst into the hotel housing the foreign press in Tripoli on Saturday morning in an attempt to tell journalists that she had been raped and beaten by members of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s militia. After struggling for nearly an hour to resist removal by Colonel Qaddafi’s security forces, she was dragged away from the hotel screaming.


She pleaded for friends she said were still in custody. “They are still there, they are still there,” she said. “As soon as I leave here, they are going to take me to jail.”

The NYT Lede has raw footage up here.

Lisa Holland filed this report from Tripoli for Sky News (post continues after youtube):

The bruises and injuries the woman showed to journalists match up with her story of being bound up, beaten, and raped.

From what I can make of the following reporting from Wapo and Forbes, Charles Clover of the Financial Times, one of the journalists attacked as he tried to intervene/report, had his recording device taken away by Gaddafi’s henchmen before he was deported. A CNN camera was also confiscated and the cameraman found himself at gunpoint when he tried to take it back.

Washington Post:

“I was tied up. They defecated on me. They urinated on me. They violated my honor,” she said.

But as she spoke, hotel staff members, security guards and government minders closed in on her and began dragging her away. Journalists who tried to protect her were punched, and one, Charles Clover of the Financial Times, was knocked to the ground and kicked. Shortly afterward, Clover was deported after being informed at 2 a.m. that he would have to leave the country because the government didn’t like his reporting.

Two waitresses grabbed knives and screamed that the woman was a “traitor” to Gaddafi, and one threw a coat over her head in an effort to silence her. Government minders, who are assigned to supervise and supposedly protect journalists, snatched a CNN camera and smashed it, and one of them pulled a pistol when the cameraman tried to take it back.

Eventually the woman, screaming, “They are taking me to jail,” was hauled outside to an unmarked saloon car, which whisked her away at high speed.

Kiri Blakely/Forbes blog:

In the ensuing chaos, reporters were beaten off and threatened as they tried to protect the woman and get her story, and hotel staff suddenly began working in tandem with security staff to get the woman off the premises. A reporter for the Financial Times had his recording device, which had recorded the woman’s testimony, wrested from him.

As Kiri Blakely goes on to report, Gaddafi’s regime is accusing the woman of being drunk and delusional:

The story is tragic and horrible, and I fear for the woman’s life. Adding yet another horrific, and all too common, element to the tale is that the woman’s testimony of sexual and physical abuse, reportedly backed up by physical evidence, was then dismissed as “fantasies” by the Libyan government. The government went on to say that the woman appeared “drunk” and “mentally ill.”

I will try to update this post or do a follow-up as more information becomes available.

UPDATE — Apparently Libyan government officials, now under media scrutiny and facing questions of where al-Obeidy is and how she is being treated, have referred to this as a case of rape — a shift from the ‘drunk and delusional’ narrative being pushed by the government earlier. Via Al Jazeera:

At a hastily arranged press conference following the incident, Moussa Ibrahim, a government spokesman, said investigators had told him that the woman was drunk and possibly mentally challenged.

Anita McNaught, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tripoli, said: “The government initially suggested that she was drunk … but when they [officials] came back to the journalists later to reassure them that she was being well cared for … they did describe this as a case of rape.”

Also, more details on what al-Obeidy told reporters about the men from Gaddafi’s militia who attacked her:

Before she was dragged out of the hotel, al-Obeidi was able to tell journalists that she was detained by a number of troops at a Tripoli checkpoint on Wednesday.

She said they were drinking whiskey and handcuffed her and that 15 men later raped her.

Here’s the Al Jazeera report via youtube posted at the link:

33 Comments on “Libyan Woman Disappeared? (UPDATED)”

  1. WomanVoter says:

    I believe Eman al-Obeidy, over the propaganda driven dribble from the Gaddafi TV and his idea of news. Some on Twitter have said she, stated that her friends were still being held there, and she wanted to give a first person account of her ordeal and tell the world of what happened.

    In Egypt, weeks after, we are just learning of the ‘Virginity’ exams, which were video taped of women and girls and watched by the Security ‘torture’ Forces of Mubarack. Women and children are the canaries in the mines of these ruthless Regimes/Dictators and only silence allows the oppression to continue. I watched a video of a young woman in Egypt who said she was raped and that despite what this meant, in a ‘conservative’ culture and despite her conservative dress/religiousness she was speaking up, in hopes that others might be spared this injustice and because she knew that telling might just shame them…see they count on these women to keep quiet…there families too.

    I hope Eman al-Obeidy is found, cared for and allowed to heal. In many ways, she too knew that only telling, would save her and perhaps her friends too.

    Thanks Wonk The Vote for covering Eman al-Obeidy story.

  2. paper doll says:

    Indeed Mubarack Forces and all that means are still there. Only the” velvet glove ” of civilian government as been stripped away.

  3. Dario says:

    Yes, it’s horrible, but I still don’t want us to be in Libya. The Libyans have to fix their culture because it cannot be done by outsiders. If we want change, we should begin at home first before we start trying to fix what is wrong in other places.

    • WomanVoter says:

      Gosh, with the NEVER ENDING WARS in Afghanistan and Iraq everyone seems to think this is a US Sole operation, which it is not. Clinton participated in a No Fly Zone and used his head and got out.

      Gaddafi has been connected to many acts of terrorism and no one ever stood up to him, with even the PAN AM bomber being freed due to his Regime’s pressure…which now seems unthinkable, but it happened.

      The people of Libya are putting up a fight as best they can, fighting with toy guns even, in an effort to gain their freedom. I don’t want ground troops and I want an EXIT plan out of Afghanistan and Iraq, as I don’t care to support our government making deals with the Taliban, nor paying the Taliban or War Extortion Lords (sick use of the word Lord) extortion money to travel on roads that were built and paid for by us and the citizens terrorized and women so fraught with terror every day (due to the Taliban continuation of oppressive culture/government) that they would rather set themselves on fire.

      So, no, I think, the Middle East is awakening to fight the evil of oppression that has held them back and even women in Afghanistan started some very small protests for their Freedom…

    • WomanVoter says:

      Desperation drives abused Afghan women to death by fire

      • TheRock says:

        I couldn’t make through the whole video. I remember watching people jump from the WTC on 9/11. I remember watching in horror, not because they jumped, but rather because they CHOSE to jump rather than stay where they were. How horrible it must have been in that building for them to choose jumping 90 floors to their death rather than staying where they were. That is all I could think about while watching that video.

        Hillary has to run. I know that is selfish of me, but no one has been (and currently is) a better champion for women and girls than Hillary. That doesn’t mean this atrocity wouldn’t have happened, but I’m sure that these incidents would decrease if she was in office.

        Hillary 2012

      • Nima Elbagir’s report from last year on Afghani women burning themselves for freedom:

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        @ Rock, My husband said one of the most horrific things he saw was groups of 20 plus people holding hands and jumping from the WTC. He said you could see people hugging each other before they would jump…as you said it was a better death for them…a choice they made.

  4. Branjor says:

    That is one brave woman. I hope they don’t torture her further, but fear that they will.

  5. WomanVoter says:

    siserief iseriefvdvelden
    by pedropizano
    RT @NicRobertsonCNN: Eman al-Obeidi is her name. Govt spksmn said she “sane & well.” When dragging her off, they sd “mentally disturbed…..

    The ‘sanity’ thing has been used against women for ever.

  6. WomanVoter says:

    dovenews khal Ali
    by IbnOmar2005
    Who is @EmanAlobeidy ??
    #EmanAlobeidy #libya #freelibya #savelibya

    I do hope she is not forgotten, nor the fact that Gaddafi’s Security Forces use rape as a weapon, on defenseless women.

  7. Linda C says:

    I hope the Arabs are just as outraged as us. I also hope that this shakes up the still brainwashed Libyans and those still sitting on the fence.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Mona Eltahawy’s post on Gaddafi and women

  9. boogieman7167 says:

    i have a question the UN mandate is pretty much do what ever it take to protect civilians
    that us has been pounding Gaddafis forces pretty hard so under the UN mandates that would mean if the rebel forces where so try and take tripoli or some other major city held by Gaddafis forces the US would have to attack the rebels because they would be putting civilian lives in jeopardy .

    • boogieman7167 says:

      is that how every else misinterpreted it

    • bostonboomer says:

      No, it doesn’t mean that. In the first place it’s Gaddafi who is putting people in danger. The people in Tripoli want him gone too, trust me. We’re talking about a man who tortures and disappears people. Once he’s gone, plenty more people will feel safe to speak up.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Gaddafi faked civilian deaths according to Gates.

      In an interview on Saturday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his forces are heaping dead bodies on the sites of last week’s allied airstrikes so they can blame the West for death tolls, according to U.S. intelligence reports. Last week, Libyan officials counted 100 in a civilian death toll after the coalition airstrikes, while Western officials insisted no civilians had been killed, and that the goal of military intervention is to protect civilians. “The truth of the matter is we have trouble coming up with proof of any civilian casualties that we have been responsible for,” Gates said in the interview, which will air Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. In the same interview, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that intelligence reports suggested Gaddafi’s aides are becoming increasingly anxious about the potential for his fall from power.

      • boogieman7167 says:

        sorry Boston i beg to differ with you
        and so dose the UN resolution.

        Security Council Resolution on Libya

        ” It does not authorize member states to support rebels, defend armed insurgent groups, remove Qaddafi from office, or take steps to prevent Qaddafi’s use of mercenaries.”

      • bostonboomer says:

        I didn’t the resolution said that.

      • boogieman7167 says:

        i never said that you did Boston,. it just how this thing is used that all

      • okasha says:


        Security Council Resolution on Libya

        ” It does not authorize member states to support rebels, defend armed insurgent groups, remove Qaddafi from office, or take steps to prevent Qaddafi’s use of mercenaries.”

        True enough. However, the practical understanding of the thing is that protecting civilians involves diminishing Qaddafi’s ability to harm them by neutralizing both his aerial and his ground capacity. If in turn that facilitates his removal, the support of the insurgents, etc.– oh, well. All to the good.

  10. boogieman7167 says:

    i just have a bad feeling about this war that we may get tied up in a long drawn out war . i hope im wrong i hope im very wrong

    • bostonboomer says:

      Everyone hopes that.

    • WomanVoter says:


      This is not a US ‘owned’ No Fly Zone, it is a UN one, and it started or was led by the French, with Gaddafi forces on Benghazi’s gates, not a minute to loose.

      NATO will be taking over the operations, with a Canadian being in charge of operations.

  11. WomanVoter says:

    Women protest against attacks by Gaddafi forces

    • WomanVoter says:

      The Libyan Transitional National Council said on Sunday that Eman Al-Obeidi had been one of four female lawyers who went missing following a protest in Zawiya.

      Wow, so when she was trying to get the word out about her friends, she was speaking of the missing lawyers!?! Most distressing indeed…and still no one has seen her.

    • WomanVoter says:

      pedropizano Pedro Pizano
      “@NickKristof: The heroic Libyan woman #EmanalObeidi turns out to be a law graduate, age 29, seized at checkpoint

      So, she is one of four missing women attorneys who had gone MISSING after protesting and doing some other work which has not been confirmed yet.

      Distressing, distressing and horrific even more, when we realize others are being held and tortured, and rape is one of their horrific tools used on these women.

      Gaddafi needs to go, these women are human beings, HUMAN BEINGS!

      • WomanVoter says:

        nusibab Nusiba Bengezi
        by IbnOmar2005
        Sign this petition NOW! we demand they release #EmanAlObeidi !
        #Libya #WhereisEmanAlObeidi #Feb17

        I hope they are also asking for the release of the other three women attorneys too.

  12. WomanVoter says:

    DemocracyReview Democracy Review
    by pedropizano
    “I am very happy very proud” mother of Eman Al-Obeidi speaks of courage
    #EmanAlObeidi #Amnesty #Rape #Gaddafi

    Eman Al-Obeidi, speaks about the horrors her family has lived through and how she is proud of her daughter. This is not the first loss this family has suffered under Gaddafi.