International Justice

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Rape in Libya to be Treated as War Crime

BBC news reported yesterday that women raped in Libya during the 2011 uprising will likely be recognized as victims of war if the cabinet approves.

The International Criminal Court has collected evidence showing that Gaddafi ordered rape as a “weapon against rebel forces.”  If the Congress approves, the rape victims will receive compensation and will be put on the same level as ex-wounded fighters.

Equating women raped by the regime and the ex-fighters can benefit the democratic process that the country is now participating in.  One BBC reporter said ‘recognizing rape is an unprecedented move in the conservative North African state.’

The Libyan country would indeed benefit from such an action and help the reconciliation process, which is needed in order to have a successful transitional government.  Reconciliation need to include all victims, not just those wounded in war, etc.

‘Some victims can’t go to school…they are suffering in silence from all these outstanding issues,’ said Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani.  Currently, reconciliation efforts in the country are at a stand still and the hope is that this action will move the process forward.

Recognizing those raped as war victims could additionally open a dialogue between victims and others on a subject that is ‘taboo’ to speak about in the country.  Giving rape victims compensation and a chance to reconcile would also greatly benefit the democratic process and make victims want to participate in the foundation-building of the government.


2 responses to “Rape in Libya to be Treated as War Crime

  1. Pingback: Child Soldiers and the Universality of International Criminal Law | The Politics of International Justice

  2. gracen0te5 March 14, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Whether rape has been carried out as a strategic use in war is a very tricky subject to discuss, especially because there is emotional torment, psychological damage, physical injuries, disease, social ostracism, and many other consequences that devastate lives and communities.

    It’s not a new allegation, but it’s been linked to Gaddafi – the directing of impotency drugs for troops to carry out the policy for repression.

    For rape that has happened years ago, what is the most reasonable way to give rape victims compensation? The restoration process seems very intangible. I wonder how the state agrees to set the levels of compensation case by case.

    There are so many reasons and systematic control in the process of war rape.
    To list a few:
    Rape is used in ethnic conflicts as a way for attackers to perpetuate social control and redraw ethnic boundaries. (Strategy of ethnic cleansing)
    Rape targets and damages women, the reproducers and care figures of the community. (Rape is seen as destroying an opposing community)
    Rape brings in the risk of infection of HIV/AIDS (discontinues generations, results in more suffering)
    Sexual Violence destabilizes communities and remind people of terror. (Mental instability)
    Sexual Violence imposes authority over groups of people. (Reduces confidence and health of a community)

    Because inflicts so much damage on a community, the restoration, healing, reconciling process doesn’t just involve an individual. A whole community requires healing – at least the community closely linked to that individual. So if rape were to have damaged a woman’s psychological and social being, therefore disabling her from providing for her family or taking care of her children, are government programs providing adequately and following up with victims?

    There are truth and transitional justice programs within communities such as:
    (Libya Initiative Al-Mubadara Libya Saturday)
    (Legal recognition for war victim women who suffered sexual violence during the 2011 uprising)
    (Opportunity for women to speak out despite stigma attached to rape)

    Publicly acknowledging a serious transgression is a strong first step; I am proud that the women who are speaking out for other women are showing strength for sensitive issues. The government, however, must keep thinking critically about the nature of their response to how to take measures to continually protect the mental and physical well being of those affected (directly and indirectly) by sexual war crimes.

    Something to consider: Moroccan law on rapists marrying their victims
    I am not familiar with Libya’s laws, but I found this Moroccan law article connecting with the ways that NGOs and government may get involved with sexual violence reform:

    In some sensitive cases, what are the beneficial and possibly negative implications of NGO aid in sexual violence? Are there specific countries that are not as open to “sexual restoration volunteers” to bring about reform/care for battered victims?

    Same with child soldiers. In what ways is foreign intervention welcomed/not as welcomed in the healing process of a nation’s people?

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