Where is Iman al-Obeidi? The Libyan woman burst into a Tripoli hotel on Saturday, opened her coat to reveal bruises and scars, and told foreign reporters that she'd been gang-raped by Qaddafi's troops. Security forces tackled al-Obeidi and dragged her away.
The Libyan government said on Sunday that al-Obeidi had been released into the care of her sister. But al-Obeidi's parents have disputed this, saying she's still being held by the government, and that Qaddafi's officials are pressuring her to change her story.
Who is Iman al-Obeidi? This is a matter of nearly as much dispute. People claiming to be relatives of al-Obeidi have described her variously as a lawyer, a law student, and a travel agent. In an interview with Al Jazeera, al-Obeidi's father held up a picture of Iman that he said showed her graduating from law school.
But Libyan the government says al-Obeidi is a prostitute with a criminal record, and one spokesman called her a "mental patient."
What happened to Iman al-Obeidi? This, too, isn't known with any real certainty. Before she was taken away on Saturday, al-Obeidi said that she'd been detained at a Tripoli checkpoint the previous Wednesday. She said she was handcuffed and gang-raped by 15 members of a government militia, and that they held her for two days.
Her story hasn't been verified, but CNN notes that her injuries, down to the rope burns, "appeared consistent with what she said."
And according to Al Jazeera, "doctors say they have found Viagra tablets and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Qaddafi fighters"--meaning it may have been a policy to use "rape as a weapon of war."
Facebook is already flooded with pages demanding the release of al-Obeidi, and her name and face seem to be known all over Libya. "Everyone is talking about it, but no one can talk," said one man in Tripoli, quoted in the Los Angeles Times. "We all believe her."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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