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Libyan woman who made rape claims arrives in Doha

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 12 May 2011 05:25 GMT
Author: Regan E. Doherty
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By Regan E. Doherty

DOHA, May 11 (Reuters) - A Libyan woman whose allegations she had been gang raped by pro-government militiamen caused a furor at a Tripoli hotel full of foreign journalists has flown to Qatar, Libyan rebels said on Wednesday.

Eman Al-Obaidi, who was bundled away by security but was later released after making a desperate plea to journalists in Tripoli in March, fled to Tunisia and arrived in Qatar by air, officials from the rebels' Transitional National Council said.

Two officers escorted her across the Tunisian border and assisted her in boarding a flight to the Qatari capital, Ali Zaidan, spokesman for the Libyan League for Human Rights, told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of Libyans in Doha.

"She's very strong, very sure. It has not been easy," Zaidan, a former Libyan diplomat who brokered French recognition of the council, said.

In March, Obaidi burst into a Tripoli hotel and, weeping, told the media that she had been held for two days and raped by 15 militiamen loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The U.S. envoy to the United Nations has said troops loyal to Gaddafi increasingly have been engaging in sexual violence, with some issued the impotency drug Viagra.

"Gaddafi has used rape as a tool of war. That shows how evil he is," Fawzia Bariun, representative from the Consortium of Libyan Women, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Doha meeting.

"Eman is only one example. She was so courageous to scream and shout."

British charity Save The Children has said that children as young as eight have been sexually assaulted during the conflict between rebels trying to oust Gaddafi and forces loyal to him.

It was unclear how long Obaidi would stay in Doha.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Michael Roddy)


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