Alleged rape victim in Libya speaks to Anderson Cooper

This is part two of the interview with Eman al-Obeidy, the woman who said she was raped by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. In the interview, Cooper questions the woman about some of the allegations those loyal to the regime have made towards her: that she was drunk when she initially told reporters about her ordeal, that she is mentally retarded and that she is a prostitute. A paragraph in the accompanying story gives us an idea of how much danger al-Obeidy and other women who speak out about rape:

The attempt to discredit al-Obeidy as a promiscuous, un-Islamic woman ties into the idea of sexual shaming in a conservative Muslim society where it’s commonly believed that a woman who has been raped has lost her honor, said Mona Eltahawy, a columnist on Arab and Muslim issues. For a woman in such a society to come forward to claim she has been raped is no small thing. No one would do that unless they were raped, and especially in a conservative society,” Eltahawy told CNN.

Al-Obeidy’s ordeal in the aftermath of a rape is not that much different than what most women face in a world that glorifies and accepts rape culture. Even in the Middle East, a region westerners like to think of as being primitive and oppressive to women’s rights, they practice the same tenants of rape culture we have engraved into our minds: blame the victim, slander the victim and dismiss the actions of the perpetrators.

My question is: where are the men and the women who were rising up against Gadhafi in the streets of Tripoli just a month ago? Why aren’t they rallying to al-Obeidy’s defense against these ruthless thugs they criticized for shooting at innocent protesters and their families just a month before? The unfortunate thing about this incident is that even in times of revolution, which men and women both come together to overthrow tyrannical kleptocratic regimes, rape culture codes and regulations never go away. Even with new leaders forming a new type of government, women will still be subjected to patriarchal rule and the regulations that go with it, including the practice of rape culture.

Men, for the most part, will band together to fight the so-called rape falsehoods brought on by the so-called deranged women.

Given that Gadhafi has been more than willing to use military forces and mercenaries to kill his own people, I am truly afraid for the safety of al-Obeidy. Whose to stop Gadhafi from ordering his blood-thirsty, loyal thugs from killing al-Obeidy–and countless other women who decide to stop the mass silence and speak out about their rapes?