Unspeakable Crime: Rape as a Weapon of War in Libya - The Libyan Report

Unspeakable Crime: Rape as a Weapon of War in Libya

Activists collect evidence of systematic rape and torture in Libya, speaking to victims caught up in the state's crisis.

"If you use a bomb it goes through the body. It kills and it leaves a mark. Any weapon does. But rape is an invisible weapon. It's only uncovered if the victim speaks out," says Imad Erg, a human rights activist.

He, along with other activists working from Tunisia, aims to uncover crimes in Libya as conflict continues to tear apart their home country.

Following the Arab Spring in 2011 and the toppling of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya fell into chaos as rival factions struggled for control of the country and its oil reserves.

And in a war waged with guns and missiles, factions are also using a more silent weapon: systematic male rape.

Erg and his coworkers review online videos, speak to victims, and document their cases in hopes of prosecuting the offenders in international courts.

One victim describes being handcuffed naked and left hanging off a door. Another describes dogs biting him, and watching prisoners being forced to rape each other. Other cases involve being sodomised with sticks and weapons.

"Now I have physical problems," says a victim, known as Ali, who was held in prison for six years. "At times it goes away."

Among those vulnerable are refugees and migrants - many from Africa and the Middle East pass through Libya on their way to Europe - as well as the Tawergha, a black Libyan minority.

Faced with painful memories and lasting injuries from their abuse, the men must also shoulder rape's taboos.

"You can offer millions to a victim to testify in a court," says another victim, Yassine. "He'll say, 'No way. I can't tell you what happened to me.' He'll say, 'I don't want to be known.' The victim is afraid of being exposed. His fear of being humiliated is constant. You become paranoid. You think everyone knows. That's the worst part."

Source: Al Jazeera source