In late March, Eman al-Obeidy, a Libyan woman, gained international notoriety when she burst into a hotel full of journalists in Tripoli, attempting to tell the story of her brutal sexual assault by Gaddafi’s soldiers. She was dragged away by hotel staff and government officials as dozens of journalists looked on in horror. Weeks later, she gave an interview coordinated by Gaddafi’s son, saying that she was raped and tortured by soldiers. She also said that she lived in fear for speaking out about the crimes committed against her.
Now, CNN is saying that Obeidy has escaped to neighboring Tunisia, leaving with the help of a defecting military officer and his family. She was wearing a head cover that hid everything except one of her eyes, and although the car was detained several times, they were permitted to go forward after the officer showed documentation. Obeidy entered Tunisia on a refugee visa, and was met at the border by European diplomats.
She is, however, still uncertain about her future. “I still do not know what I am going to do. Of course I’d like to see my family,” she said. She expressed fears that she might have been followed by the Libyan government, and said that she hopes to gain Western protection against any future reprisals from Libya.
Obeidy’s parents were “overjoyed” to hear that their daughter was safe. In Libya, she had suffered harassment by government officials and her rape case was not progressing. Her father said that he had not been optimistic about Obeidy’s ability to escape Libya, explaining that he thought Gaddafi’s forces “would do the worst to her, given his past.”
Now, it’s still unclear what Obeidy’s ultimate fate will be. But at least she’s in the hands of diplomats who can protect her for the time being, and help her develop a plan to keep her safe, and allow her to begin to heal.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.