By Michelle Faul for AP:
BENGHAZI, Libya – At first, the responses to the questionnaire about the trauma of the war in Libya were predictable, if tragic: 10,000 people suffering post-traumatic stress, 4,000 children with psychological problems. Then came the unexpected: 259 women said they had been raped by militiamen loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.
Dr. Seham Sergewa had been working with children traumatized by the fighting in Libya but soon found herself being approached by troubled mothers who felt they could trust her with their dark secret.
The first victim came forward two months ago, followed by two more. All were mothers of children the London-trained child psychologist was treating, and all described how they were raped by militiamen fighting to keep Gadhafi in power.
Sergewa decided to add a question about rape to the survey she was distributing to Libyans living in refugee camps after being driven from their homes. The main purpose was to try to determine how children were faring in the war; she suspected many were suffering from PTSD.
To her surprise, 259 women came forward with accounts of rape. They all said the same thing.
Across the world, rape carries a stigma. But it can be a deadly one in conservative Muslim societies like Libya, where rape is considered a stain on the honor of the entire family. Victims can be abandoned by their families and, in some cases, left in the desert to die. Speaking to a journalist is out of the question.
Reading from the scribbled Arabic on the back of one survey, Sergewa described one woman's attack in Misrata in March, while it was still occupied by Gadhafi's forces.
"First they tied my husband up," the woman wrote. "Then they raped me in front of my husband and my husband's brother. Then they killed my husband."
Another woman in Misrata said she was raped in front of her four children after Gadhafi fighters burned down her home.
"She ran away with her children and tried to escape to the port, but then they started shelling the port. In the chaos, she was separated from the children," Sergewa said.
"She was distraught when I interviewed her, not knowing if her children were dead or alive. I wish I knew the end of her story, but I don't know what happened to her."
What sort of personality will her children have as they mature, what sort of world-view will they hold? Children raised in this sort of society can't help but internalize the message of unrestrained brutality and inhumanity. Islamic violence begets Islamic violence.
"These women were terrified their families would find out — two were married, one was single," Dr. Suleiman Refadi said. "They only came to me because they also were terrified that they may have been infected with the AIDS virus."
"Some I diagnosed with acute psychosis; they are hallucinating," Sergewa said. "Some are very depressed; some want to commit suicide. Some want their parents to kill them because they don't want their families to bear the shame."
Some already have been abandoned by their husbands and fear seeking treatment could get them ostracized or cast out of their communities. Others have kept the rapes a secret for fear of retribution from spouses. "They fear their husbands will take them out to the desert and leave them there to die," Sergewa said.
Yet Muslims and the apologists who enable them continue to claim that Islam is pro-womens' rights. The truth is, the view of women in Islam is, like everything else in Islam, straight out of the 7th Century. They are soley to be used for breeding, and if they have sex with anyone besides their master/owner, whether consensually or not, their value immediately drops to zero.
"They are using rape not just to hurt women but to terrorize entire families and communities," Sergewa said. "The women I spoke to say they believed they were raped because their husbands and brothers were fighting Gadhafi.
"I think it is also to put shame on the tribes or the villages, to scare people into fleeing, and to say: 'We have raped your women,'" she said.
It is a coward and a reprobate who uses rape of unarmed women to "send a message" to other men. It is someone who thinks of women not as equal human beings, but only as subhuman breed stock. It is, in other words, a Muslim, following the example of Mohammad.