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in brief: libya to recognise and compensate women raped in 2011 uprising


A step in the right direction for Libya this week: the creation of a law acknowledging and compensating the women raped in the 2011 uprising which removed Muammar Gaddafi from power.

Hundreds of women may have been raped during the eight-month conflict (exact numbers have not been confirmed) according to the International Criminal Court, which has collected evidence that pro-Gaddafi forces used rape as a weapon to spread fear among its opponents.

Details around this announcement are hazy; however Libyan Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani has stated that ‘this group [of women] is weak and needs our care…it [the law] will give them many rights…and cover also compensation.’

The level of condescension towards the women who suffered unbearable trauma here is appalling; however, it is an undeniable progress in a nation where rape victims are often ostracised and the discussion of the crime remains taboo.

According to Minister Marghani, the cabinet had issued a law that would recognise these women as war victims, which puts them on the same level as former rebel fighters requiring medical treatment (as many of the women may also require).

It is unclear, however, how much compensation the women will receive. The hypotheticals are medical care, financial assistance or improved living situations, as these are the entitlements of other war victims. If these are what is afforded to the women of Libya, it will be a marked improvement, given that many of them have feared that they would be sued themselves for being raped.

Despite the huge victory which this step brings to the nation, there is still a long way before they quell the unrest in the region. Last week Amnesty International accused the Libyan government of upholding Gaddafi-era laws against freedom of expression, noting that they’d recently made it illegal to criticise the ’17 February Revolution’ or insult government officials. They also reported that attacks on journalists in the region had escalated. However, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

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