On March 26, a distraught and bruised woman burst into a Tripoli hotel lobby full of Western journalists. She identified herself as Iman al-Obdeidi, and said she had been raped and abused by Gadhafi soldiers for two days after being stopped at a check point. In a chaotic scene that was filmed and broadcast on television and the internet, she was set upon by government security forces and, while journalists who tried to intervene were pushed aside, she was dragged into a car. She has not been seen since.
A Libyan government spokesman has accused Ms. al-Obeidi of being a drunkard, a mental case, and a prostitute. He also announced she will be charged with slander.
In a television interview, Ms. al-Obeidi's mother, draped in the flag of the anti-Gadhafi opposition, said her daughter is a lawyer, and that she herself had been offered money to induce her daughter to retract her story, which the mother refused to do.
Ms. al-Obeidi's story of rape and abuse, and reports that she may have been targeted because of anti-regime sympathies or connections, cannot be confirmed. But the fact that she spoke out is telling.
President Barack Obama, in explaining his decision to help prevent Moammar Gadhafi from slaughtering his own people, noted that for decades Mr. Gadhafi denied Libyans "their freedom, exploited their wealth, [and] murdered opponents at home." When confronted by a popular uprising demanding change, the Libyan dictator, said President Obama, decided to set his armed forces against men, women and children "who sought their freedom from fear."
Ms.al-Obedei's desperate revelations appear to be a determined decision to free herself from the fear and terror that her abusers hoped would silence her. She deserves to be released from the injustices of the Gadhafi regime.