Physicians for Human Rights reports an agonizing story out of Libya, one that stops the hearts of those of us who support international women’s rights. Three girls aged 15, 17 and 18 were allegedly assaulted by soldiers while at school in Tomina, located near the war-shattered city of Misrata.
The crime emerged from the June interviews conducted around human rights abuses in Libya. The report issued by PHR said that the three girls returned to their family in late April, telling their father that they had been raped in the Alwadi Alahdar elementary school for three consecutive days.
In response, the father slit each of his daughters’ throats with a knife that very day, killing them. Another long-time Tomina resident and mother of three corroborated these ‘honor killings’ to the PHR team.
The report continues with PHR reporting that one obstetrician/gynecologist saying that Libyan women won’t go to the gynecologist after being raped. Another informant interviewed said: ‘If Qaddafi destroys a building, it can be rebuilt. But when Qaddafi rapes a woman, the whole community is destroyed forever. He know this, and so rape is his best weapon.’ The informant said ‘I’d prefer to die if that happened to my wife.’
Gaddafi Maid Suffering from Burns
Shweyga Mullah was discovered and interviewed by CNN, then hospitalized in Tripoli for terrible burns she says came when she refused to beat Aline Skaf Gadhafi’s small child, who was crying for an extended time. Mullah was the Ethiopian nanny to Hannibal and Aline Gadhafi’s young son and daughter for the past year.
A CNN crew first encountered Mullah on Sunday, when visiting the luxurious former home of the Gadhafi son. As CNN was ready to leave, a staff member sought help for the nanny.
“She took me to a bathroom. She tied my hands behind my back, and tied my feet. She taped my mouth, and she started pouring the boiling water on my head like this,” she said, imitating the vessel of scalding hot water being poured over her head.
She peeled back the garment draped carefully over her body. Her chest, torso and legs are all mottled with scars — some old, some still red, raw and weeping. As she spoke, clear liquid oozed from an open wound on her head.
After one attack, “There were maggots coming out of my head, because she had hidden me and no one had seen me,” Mullah said.
Honor in Pakistan
April 14, 2011 was a horrific day for Pakistani woman Asma Firdous. Two men entered her home, cut off six of her fingers, slashed her arms and lips before slicing off her nose. The men, who were involved in a dispute with her husband, locked Asma inside and took off, ending their mission of revenge.
Pakistan is the world’s third-most dangerous country for women, after Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, says a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Daily life — and eminent danger — are particularly dangerous for women in the Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province where 2,600 women were reported as being raped in 2010. Attacks against women have risen 18 percent in the last year through May and experts believe the actual numbers are hugely underreported.
The world was inspired by the courageous story of Pakistani woman Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang raped near Mutan in 2002. Unlike most rape victims who creep into the shadows or commit suicide after a violent sexual attack — in this case the victim pressed her face. Mai filed a criminal case against 14 men.
Six men were convicted and sentenced to death for attacking Muktaran (Muktar) Mai. In 2005 the Lahore High Court commuted one sentence to ife in prison and acquitted the rest. The decision was upheld by Pakistan’s Supreme Court this past April, delivering a crushing blow to women’s rights. Mai, who had married a local police officer who came to her defense, now lives in fear that she will be murdered.
The daughter of former Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed was a member of the last Parliament and works with the women’s wing of the religious-political party. Haneya Zuberi spoke with her at Jamaat headquarters in Lahore recently. Excerpts: