Gaddafi ‘raped’ his female bodyguards

‘She refused his advances and he raped her’

Five women who formed part of Muammar Gaddafi’s select unit of female bodyguards are claiming they were raped and abused by the now hunted dictator.

The women have told Benghazi-based psychologist Seham Sergewa they were sexually abused by Col. Gaddafi and his sons before being discarded once they were “bored” with them.

One of the women told Dr Sergewa how she had been blackmailed into joining the bodyguard brigade, once believed to number as many as 400 women, after the regime fabricated a story that her brother was carrying drugs on his way back to Libya from a holiday in Malta.

“She was told ‘you either become a bodyguard or your brother will spend the rest of his life in prison,’” Dr Sergewa told The Sunday Times.

The woman in question knew exactly what this meant, Dr Sergewa explained, because she had been raped a few weeks before this by Col. Gaddafi.

“She had been expelled from university and was told to seek Gaddafi’s intervention to be reinstated. She was told she had to undergo a medical test that included an HIV test that was administered by an East European nurse.”

Eventually she was taken to meet Col. Gaddafi at his Bab Aziziya compound in Tripoli. She was led to his private quarters where she found him in his pyjamas.

“She could not understand because she saw him as a father figure, leader of the nation, that sort of thing. She refused his advances and he raped her,” Dr Sergewa said.

A pattern emerged in the stories. The women would be first raped by the dictator and then passed on, like used objects, to one of his sons and eventually to high-ranking officials for more abuse before eventually being let go.

The disturbing claims form part of a dossier being collated by Dr Sergewa for the International Criminal Court and possible trials that Col. Gaddafi and members of his inner circle may face in Libya if and when they are captured alive.

However, her work does not stop with the bodyguards. The women only stepped forward after the psychologist started investigating claims of systematic rape, allegedly committed by loyalist troops during the conflict.

It started about a month into the uprising, in March, when Dr Sergewa, a child psychologist by specialisation, was approached by the mothers of three children she was treating with harrowing stories of rape by militiamen.

The stories prodded her to pursue the claims, particularly as she already had experience of rape being used as a weapon of war as a young graduate working in Bosnia in the 1990s.

“At first I thought these were isolated incidents but I kept thinking about it and felt I should try to look into it further,” Dr Sergewa said.

She had been preparing a study on the psychological stresses associated with the ordeal of war among displaced Libyan families who sought shelter in the refugee camps that were set up in Tunisia and elsewhere, and decided to add some questions related to rape at the end of a survey. The responses started trickling in and the number eventually grew to 300. The stories were as grim as they get.

“Women came forward saying they had been raped by as many as 20 soldiers, sometimes in front of their husbands and children. In one case, a girl, around 18 or so, said she was raped in front of her father. She kept telling him not to look at her...”

Many of the victims have been deeply scarred by the abuse, with a number committing suicide orcontemplating it.

“Others have signs of psychosomatic stress and develop conditions like bulimia and anorexia.”

Her experience in Bosnia and the fact that she was a familiar face to many Libyans, on account of her TV appearances on a regular morning show dealing with children, meant that she was very well placed to help more women come forward.

Still, she feels the number of women she and her team dealt with is only the tip of the iceberg.

“I estimate that there might be as many as 6,000 victims of such rape. The problem is that we need resources to reach out to these women and give them the help they need.”

Since March, Dr Sergewa managed to secure funding from some Libyan charities and a Swiss foundation which helped pay for a team of some 15 psychologists dedicated to collating testimonies of rape and treating the victims. m The money is fast running out and the team is now down to five, but some other benefactor will keep the project going, she says.

Beyond the financial constraints, the researchers had to face the taboo associated with rape which in Libya is stronger than most countries.

“The shame is cast on the victim and her whole family, so it is very difficult for women to come forward with their story because it might mean they become socially ostracised and bring shame on their whole family.”

Some religious leaders criticised Dr Sergewa for publicising the subject, while some colleagues, including the head of Benghazi’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Ali Elroey, disputed her methods of study.

Even Amnesty International said it had not found evidence supporting the extent of rape reported by Dr Sergewa, even though the organisation did not deny it.

However, doctors and obstetricians in different cities have reported treating women for injuries that are clearly associated with rape.

Moreover, in June Dr Sergewa’s work received approval from the International Criminal Court when chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced he would be looking into charging the regime with ordering the systematic rape of civilians.

He even suggested there was evidence that the regime had provided soldiers with Viagra to encourage the attacks.

There was also the case of Iman Al-Obeidi, the woman, who burst into the hotel hosting international journalists in Tripoli to tell the world how she was savaged and gang-raped repeatedly by some 15 soldiers after she was arrested at a roadblock simply because she came from the town of al Bayda, where there had been an uprising against the dictator.

But Ms Al-Obeidi’s willingness to publicise her ordeal proved to be as rare as her story was shocking.

The ICC had approached Dr Sergewa to help convince victims to testify but the task is not plain sailing.

“So far I have managed to convince eight women to step forward to testify and it has been difficult,” Dr Sergewa explained. “Some women have been abandoned by their husbands, others are too ashamed to share their secret with their family.”



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Mr Charles.C. Brown

Aug 30th 2011, 00:01

I apologize if my comment has offended anybody i forgot for a minute that all those whom i ve upset are cousins of those across the water down south!

Mr Tony Camilleri

Aug 28th 2011, 21:59

Mr Alex Ellul don't you think that your PM was doing more than just that when he was the last PM who was hugging and kissing Gaddafi just before the trouble started?

Mrs j. Mifsud

Aug 29th 2011, 15:02

@ Mr. Tony Camilleri
ah but it was Labour who licked Ghaddafi's boots and something else in the past. We even had green passports, and looked upon with suspicion when ever abroad.

angelo cilia

Aug 28th 2011, 19:25

The man was covered with wall to wall cooze, what do you expect to happen ?

Mr Alex Ellul

Aug 28th 2011, 19:44

Maybe you don't evven buy the fact that King of Kings Gaddafi is now THE Rat' hiding away in some subterrenean cave. living his last days' weeks' just like saddam Hussein did.

Mr Alex Ellul

Aug 28th 2011, 20:02

Your comment proves its futility. You don't win an argument with such stupid and inane statements. Are you on prozac yourself?

Emma Grima

Aug 28th 2011, 20:38

And by the way...did you bother to answer me because I was the only woman to answer you back. Looks like you one of those male chauvinist p.........

Kristina Mifsud

Aug 29th 2011, 15:24

Mr. C. Brown... your comment before is very ridiculous! If you do not want others to make comments on your opinion then give a vaild comment!

@Emma you are absolutely right on all your comments and I agree

Mr Joseph Calleja

Aug 28th 2011, 16:58

Mr Pule' I am sure you remember when they used to send unwed pregnant girls to Gozo till they gave birth to the baby, so they don't embarrass the family or the town for that matter? Gaddafi and his boys used women like they used camels and who knows what his daughter did? I hope there is a court that will listen to these abused, raped women so the Gaddafi family can pay.

Mr Alex Ellul

Aug 29th 2011, 00:44

@ORourke: I cannotunderstand your point; first you lambast NATO for bombing gaddafi's military assets, thus helping the Libyan people remove him gaddafi from power, then you hail these same Libyans as heroes, which, of course, they are. Can you make up your mind about the Libyan conflict? In my worls it is veryy simple. Libyans were just fed up with gaddafi's corruption, tyranny and atrocities. They just could not take it any longer. But more than that, they could not accept the fact that gaddafi's sons would take over for the next 40 years. So, do or die, they just went for the impossible and they won. They did it because NATO destroyed gaddafi's military power from the air while the people took care of the small arms fire power at ground level. NATO just made the ground level for both sides. Meanwhile, the Libyans were so much united against gaddafi that the latter could only muster an army of a few thousand Libyan soldiers threatened with instant death if they defected, and other thousands of mercenaries who were promised heaps of money if gaddafi won.
The Libyan people have practically oudone all negative predictions that came out from 'military experts' Arab analists, journalists and main stream media heavyweight commentators who were always predicting a long and drawnout war that would take years. BUT IT DID NOT. Because there was one thing gaddafi did, which many thought impossible: Gaddafi managed to UNITE all Libyans. This fact will reverberate for years and will be the main driving force for a successful democratisation of Lbya.
The Libyans are not fools, They have shown tot he world how intelligent they are. They have convinced the democracies of the world, the UN, the Arab Legue and all thatthey can meake it. They have won the respect of all level headed people, democratic politicians except for the African Union, an organisation run by corrupt pro-gaddafi cronies, and the o'Rourkes of the world.

The Libyans have sacrificed tens of thousands of their youths, men, woman and even children bombed by gaddafi's Russian-made grads and other missiles. They will not let Libya be run by any other sort of dictator. It was too big a sacrifice to forget what tyranny is.

The western democracies have always tried to save the world from tyranny, but the o'Roukes of this world seem to be always trying to re-write history and make us forget the harm, injustices, deaths, and suffering that was showered on our planet by that master of tyrants that was the Soviet Union, now putinised into a false democarcy, still trying to support dictators such as gaddafi, Assad, Ahmedinejad and their tryrannical club.

But time has always been on the side of the righteous and against the evil ones. That is how humanity has developed; The GOOD always triumphing on EVIL. hat is how we came out of the caves and built a society that has rules, courts, police, administrators, instead of anarchy, barbarism.

Alfred Falzon

Aug 29th 2011, 08:01

@ John O'Rourke

Lenghty and nauseating panegyrics in shamelessl defence of a Fascist killer regime led by a corrupt military madman posing as RAIS do not only fail to impress but are an insult to our intelligence!
We now look forward to the rebuilding of Libya on a sound, democratic basis, even though we know that sinister elements from the unwept and unsung Khadafi era are doing their best to sow chaos and pessimism, but they WILL NOT PREVAIL!

C Muscat

Aug 29th 2011, 16:33

Thank you Mr O Rouke. It is clear and simple to say it in lay terms that the people of Libya are the lambs for sacrifice to the Gods. This time the Gods - NATO - are in a better position because they just sent bombs over a small nation without inflicting on themselves any harm.
In my opinion, it is a shame the way the people of Libya were decimated by giant Goliath. It was clear that different measures were used between Libya and Syria. In Libya, the powers to be wanted to take it all without any compromise without any try to go round the table.

Emma Grima

Aug 28th 2011, 17:04

I'm so sorry for you!!!!!! Didn't you understand that they were 'bodyguards' only because they had no choice because they were threatened!!!!!!

Klaus Pedersen

Aug 29th 2011, 08:28

And you did not understand the phrase "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" either. Besides: women abused in marriage rarely stand up to their agressor, let alone when is the dictator who rules supremely over life and detah in the country.

Mr Biker Man

Aug 28th 2011, 13:11

OH PLEASE !!! Yeah right .... allegations as untrustworthy as the sun rises every day at dawn ......

Emma Grima

Aug 28th 2011, 16:53

Whatever they are they are more probably true than not. Remember the iron fist that Gaddafi held on Libya. The truth is finally coming out after so many years of desperation, threatening and only God knows what, and this is only because he does not control the media any longer!!!!

C Muscat

Aug 28th 2011, 14:05

.....should be caught, and killed I say should be caught and brought before justice. Being killed will mean we will never know his agreements with so many honoured persons from the whole world!!

Sandro Pace

Aug 28th 2011, 15:16


Mr Carmelo Micallef

Aug 28th 2011, 21:29

Thank you for reminding people of this sad tale of the Gaddafi regime

The serious allegation of the murder in a two hour killing spree of 1200 political prisoners in Abu Salim gaol is another ... no doubt there are more ... hopefully the appropriate Criminal Court will try him and ascertain the truth.

John Zammit-Spiteri

Aug 28th 2011, 11:33

very funny! your romantic idea of suicide after rape is out of place here. All you could do is respect or shut up. It is a fact that woment suffer rape in times like this and compasion is in place at this time.

your comment ridicules!

Mr Robert Callus

Aug 28th 2011, 12:43

What a stupid comment!

Next we'll be hearing rapists defend themselves by: "How could have she been raped? She's still alive"

Emma Grima

Aug 28th 2011, 13:06

What an idiotic comment. I wonder what you would say if it were your mother, wife, daughter or sister who were raped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr Joseph Calleja

Aug 28th 2011, 15:51

Maybe Arab women are tired of being used as an object or treated less than a camel. Could be that Arab women are not slaves or properties anymore. Maybe Arab women are not afraid to speak up and brave enough to expose the pig men that have been abusing them for centuries. Mr Brown your comment makes as much sense as a sinking boat.

G Falzon

Aug 28th 2011, 16:12

Three senseless lines, Mr Brown, riddled with hiccups!

Joe Brincat-LL.D

Aug 28th 2011, 10:34

I do not think that Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, who everyone knows, would be a suitable person to answer such questions. But if you seeking answers, it may be of help if you ask Bunga Bunga Berlusconi, who already had something to say about Gaddafi and his exploits. By the way, Berlusconi is also on our honours list of Gieh ir-Repubblika.

Peter Bonnici

Aug 28th 2011, 11:17

We don't need KMB to comment, we got Charles C Brown.

Mr Joseph Calleja

Aug 28th 2011, 16:48

Don't encourage the man, he is a one man disaster all by himself. They did not name him Zero for nothing.

Alfred Falzon

Aug 28th 2011, 12:19

Stop being an apologist of a gangster regime notorious for its heinous crimes against humanity.
The game is up for the whole Khadafi clan and there is absolutely no room left for any kind of negotiations with them!
They had 42 whole years to engage in a healthy debate with the people but they chose fire power against unarmed citizens and torture against anyone who opposed them! Now it's too late!
The International Criminal Court will be the judge or rather the people of Libya whose children and relatives were butchered by the ruthless regime's forces!

Mr Wally Vella-Zarb

Aug 28th 2011, 13:16

@ Alfred Falzon

I think that you should get someone to look up the word 'apologist' in a good dictionary for you and then ask them nicely to explain it to you.

Mr Manuel Mangani

Aug 28th 2011, 15:28

Mr. Falzon: if these reports are true one hopes that Gaddafi, his gulily sons and hangers-on will pay dearly for them. However, do you think that the rebels' behaviour has been beyond reproach? There have been reports of policemen being lynched and Gaddafi supporters being burned alive. Will miscreants, if any, be brought to justice.

The winning side is often painted with a halo round its head.

Emma Grima

Aug 28th 2011, 17:01

So does this mean that in your opinion Gaddafi was once a 'good' guy just because he is on the losing end now??? He was NEVER good, not in the way he held his people under control. It is only because he cannot control the media any longer that stories like this are leaking out....and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope he is captured, together with his sons and whoever else is involved in these atrocities, and brought to justice. I hope he is condemned to rot in jail like he did to others!!!

Emma Grima

Aug 28th 2011, 17:06

@ Manuel Mangani.
Two wrongs don't make a right mate!!!!

Mr Manuel Mangani

Aug 28th 2011, 20:52

@Emma Grima: My point was not that the rebels' misdeeds somehow neutralise Gaddafi's, but that one must not run away with the idea that Gaddafi is necessarily as bad as he is being depicted in these accounts. Were he truly such a monster how come that up till 9 months ago, the West - Malta included - was showering him with praise and honours and scrambling to be in his good books?

Alfred Falzon

Aug 29th 2011, 00:40

@ Wally Vella Zarb

Yes, indeed, I followed your wise advice and regret to say that you can NEVER impress by being a "defender by argument" ( meaning of "apologist") of a corrupt, fascist regime like the one of the deposed tyrant Khadafi and his clan!
The definition is as clear as crystal and drives my message in by exposing your baseless arguments and sweeping statements!