Eman al-Obeidy made headlines earlier this spring when she burst into a hotel full of journalists, demanding to tell her story of rape at the hands of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s soldiers. The Libyan woman fled the country early in May, and has been struggling since then to find a country to accept her. Now she has been granted asylum in the United States. According to news reports, she landed in New York today.
Her saga, since she was dragged away from the Tripoli hotel in March, has been long and traumatic. In an interview, al-Obeidy said that she was harassed by government forces and even abducted at a checkpoint. After the kidnapping, she was tortured and raped by pro-Gaddafi officials. When she was finally released, she fled to Tunisia, and then moved on to Qatar. From Qatar, however, she was deported back to Libya.
Now, after spending 54 days in a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees facility in Romania, she says she is “excited and happy” to be in the United States. When she spoke with a CNN producer, however, she added that she was not yet ready to speak to the media.
Throughout her ordeal, al-Obeidy repeatedly asserted her desire to go to the United States. Now, it’s unclear what her new life will be like. Perhaps it is enough, for now, to know that she does not have to flee yet again.
In the meantime, there has been no update on the state of sexual violence in Libya. Earlier this summer, the International Criminal Court expressed its fear that Libyan soldiers were using rape as a weapon of war. It’s terrible to think that al-Obeidy’s story may just be one of many, and that Libyan women are continuing to suffer the same trauma.
Photo from Maher27777 via Wikimedia Commons.