The whole world was stunned last week when widespread reports of further brutalities made the Libyan forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi surfaced. It was not a case where the pro-Gaddafi soldiers fired munitions on civilians or shelled communities that are sympathetic to the rebellion. The brutality was more sinister and a rather familiar scene in modern day warfare. Government militiamen are committing rape to Libyan women and have been using it as a strategic weapon of war.

This came to the attention of international media when a Libyan woman named Iman al-Obeidi told journalists that she was repeatedly raped by Gaddafi troops. The incident happened at the Rixos Al Nasr hotel in the capital city Tripoli where the international media are staying to cover the Libyan uprising that began in mid-February. She was later taken away and arrested by security officials but not before being threatened and told as a traitor to their beloved Libyan leader by locals who were also present in the hotel during the commotion.

Shortly thereafter, a government spokesperson denied all allegations by al-Obeidi stating that she was drunk and has mental problems. Although there is no way for them to verify her account, the foreign journalists are having strong doubts about the government’s story having seen the repeated efforts by authorities to cover up reports of human atrocities committed by their men during the war.

Before she was arrested, al-Obeidi had a chance to tell journalists that she had been held in custody for 2 days in which during that time she claimed to have been raped by 15 men. She was arrested at a checkpoint in Tripoli because security officials learned she came from Benghazi, a known stronghold of the rebel forces in the eastern side of the country. She said that while in jail, the officers tied her up and even peed on her.

There were similar reports of systematic rape of women, mothers, and children in other parts of the country such as Misrata in the west to Saloum in the east. These cases of sexual assault by the Libyan army are even verified by aid workers working there. With the war still far from getting a foregone conclusion despite NATO’s bombardment of Gaddafi’s military installations, civilians will continue to get the brunt of the government militiamen, hence the biggest victims of this bloody civil war.

It is not the first time that rape was used as a common weapon of war. It has been uncovered that there were same horrific stories of sexual crimes carried out during conflicts in the Balkans, Congo, and Sri Lanka where women and girls were made to undergo similar trauma.