Gaddafi's Harem, a book written by a French journalist Annick Cojean shook my faith in humanity in ways most unimaginable. The savage travesty of justice committed by the dictator Muammar Gaddafi was truly unspeakable. On one hand, he projected the image of a modernist reformer who started the revolution to end harems and slaves and on the other hand, and in the words of the author, he “was a tyrant who ruled through sex, obsessed with the idea of one day possessing the wives or daughters of the rich and powerful, of his ministers and generals, of chiefs of state and monarchs.” You cannot imagine the depravity of this self proclaimed unifier of the African nations under one religion with him as the godly head.
The first part of the book is about the tragic life of a teenager called Soraya. I cringed when I read her story. Of course, one may have doubts about the truth of her account. But the author took great pains to verify the authenticity of her story. And this journey to find corroboration is set out in part two of the book.
Now back to the unbelievable narration of one brave soul who dared to speak out against an evil that was beyond comprehension.
Soraya was only fifteen went she eagerly lined up in her high school courtyard for the one they called the Guide to grace the occasion. The Guide was none other than Gaddafi. The date was April 2004. The whole school was thrilled by the Guide's arrival and this was how the author described Soraya's first meeting with him, which also meant the end of her innocence and freedom. "I (Soraya) held out the bouquet, then took his free hand in mine and kissed it as I bowed down. Then he looked me over coldly, from top to bottom. He pressed my shoulder, placed a hand on my head, and patted my hair. And there my life ended. For as I later learned, that gesture was a sign to the bodyguards that meant: "That's the one I want!""
After that brief encounter, Soraya was taken into Gaddafi”s residence to become his sex slave for about 7 years. Her innocence as a 15 year old school girl was cruelly taken from her when she was forced to put on a G-string, "a white satiny dress, slit at the sides and low cut at the neck and back" with her hair loosened all the way to her tailbone, to be offered as a sex object to the tyrannical pervert. Her horror was described in the book as such, "Gaddafi was on his bed, naked. I was terrified. I covered my eyes and shrank back in shock, thinking: "There's been a horrible mistakes! I'm not meant to be here now. Oh my God!""
But resistance was futile when faced with such a feral monster. In one incident, Soraya told the author how the Libyan dictator forced himself on her. "I remained motionless, so he leaped to his feet and with a force that took me by surprised he grabbed my arm, threw me on the bed, and flung himself on top of me. I tried to push him away, but he was heavy and I couldn't manage it. He bit my neck, my cheeks, my chest. I fought back, screaming. He shouted, "Don't move, you dirty whore!" He beat me, crushed my breast, and then after pulling up my dress and pinning my arms down, he brutally penetrated me. I will never forget that moment. He violated my body, but he pierced my soul with a dagger. The blade never came out." On other occasions, Soraya was forced to snort cocaine and to down alcohol before she was physically ravaged by Gaddafi. As she was a virgin, she bled for three days. Strangely, when she bled, Gaddafi would take a cloth to gently wipe the blood off her thigh. It was rumored that he kept the stained cloth to be used in black magic. This was just the beginning of her nightmare.
What Soraya witnessed in the palace was something more than just the brutal rapes of innocent young virgins. Sometimes she was made to watch kidnapped young girls being forced to sodomize the ruthless dictator. She was also given pornographic tapes to watch in order to learn about the many perverted ways to satisfy his wretched cravings. There were many unspeakable sexual perversions in the royal residence involving multiple partners and prostitutes, men dressed in women's outfits being forced to perform acts of sodomy, and orgies with married women, superstars and smuggled underaged girls. It was such chaos of mindless and corrupted values that Soraya called it a house of lunatics. This was made all the more contemptible and tragic when we consider that in public, the well-groomed image of Gaddafi was that of a religious man, a man of the book. But in private, he was a sexual fiend, who ruled by sexual oppression, and had squandered the resources of a nation to feed his abominable sexual appetites.
At one point in the book, Soraya was worried that she might get pregnant or be infected with diseases through the frequent forced intercourse with her evil captor. But she was told that Gaddafi had a handful of women nurses who were always waiting by the next room feverishly testing and screening all the dictator's sexual victims to ensure that they got the clean bill of health. Further, she was also told that Gaddafi was given injections that made him infertile. This gave him the audacity to carry out his indiscriminate sexual brutalities with whomever he pleases with complete impunity. In one episode, Soraya was made to feel as worthless as a sex toy. This was how she recounted it when Gaddafi summoned her to his room. "Get undressed, whore!" the Guide ordered when I got to his bedroom. This time I felt it went too far. I burst out in sobs. "Why do you say that to me? Why? I am not a whore!" That enraged him. He roared "Shut your mouth, whore" and raped me, making me understand that I was nothing but a possession of his, someone without any right to speak."
Gaddafi’s sexual escapades and domination was relentless. He was thorough with his methodology of spotting young pretty girls both locally and abroad. He had a network of spies working for him to collect photographs of unsuspecting girls for his viewing pleasure before he gave the order to abduct them for his ravaging pleasure. In the book, the author wrote that he once lured a girl into a library and he threw her down on a mattress and raped her. Thereafter, he left without a word. It is not uncommon for him to threaten to imprison or kill a member of the family should they refuse to offer their daughter to him. He was often surrounded by women who worked for him round the clock to entice, reward, bribe, persuade, chastise, threaten, reprimand and punish girls who refused the great leader’s sexual advances. At times, he would offer the girls a University’s scholarship in return for sexual submission.
What made it even more heinous was his convoluted appetite for young brides. This was one leader who loved to stroke his own ego and there was no better way to do it than to snatch beautiful brides on their wedding day. He had in fact done it on a few occasions and often made a bargain with them that they cannot refuse. In one horrid incident, he had a nurse taken to a small room with a Jacuzzi. Waiting for her were two other nurses who quickly did a blood test on her. Here is how the author described the next scene in the book, “Then, no longer smiling, Gaddafi reappeared. His intentions were very clear. The girl panicked: “I beg you, don’t touch me. I come from the mountains. And I have a fiancé!” The Guide answered: “I’ll give you a choice. Either I kill him or I let you marry him and give you a house, and you’ll belong to both of us.”
No one was kept safe from his leering eyes, lusting heart, and depraved hands. Even generals’ daughters were among his sexual preys. He once abducted a general’s daughter and lavished her with gifts in return for a forced sexual relationship. Her father was so devastated when he learned of what Gaddafi did that he suffered a stroke and subsequently died in hospital.
There is in fact no perversion too perverted for this self-proclaimed modern day messiah of the people. It was said that he had forced male ministers in his government to have sexual relations with him. Some ministers were so desperate to win favors from him that they even offered their wives and daughters as his sexual playthings. This was unfortunately the unspoken culture of the country where sexual bribes were traded for career advancement and self-enrichment.
Here are the words of the current President of Libya’s Supreme Council of Public Liberty and Human Rights, Mohammed al-Alagi, to describe the ex-ruler of his country. “Gaddafi raped…Committed rape himself on a grand scale and ordered others to rape. Men, women. He was a sexual monster, perverse and enormously violent. I got wind of evidence of this very early on. Women lawyers, who had been raped themselves, confided in me as a friend and as a man of the law. They didn’t dare go to the attorney general: bringing charges would mean a death sentence. Did you see the videos online of the atrocious lynching of a few officers who had dared protest the Guide’s rape of their wife? That guy was a barbarian!”
In the book, there is this ominous warning issued against those who dared to protest against Gaddafi’s iron-clad rule, “Who would dream of bringing charges against the devil when you are in hell?” And to sexual captives like Soraya and many other young innocent girls, whose family had either disowned them for bringing their family dishonor or poured scorn on them for being sexually defiled, their fate was really no different from being in hell.
For the 40 years that Gaddafi ruled Libya, he had not only raped the women of the land, he had also raped the people’s resources. This was one insane leader who feared neither man nor God. This was also one inhumane leader who proclaimed these ironic words in 1981 at the anniversary of the revolution, “We call for a revolution to liberate the women of the Arab nation, which will be a bomb to shake up the entire Arab region, inciting female prisoners, whether in palaces or marketplaces, to rebel against their jailers, their exploiters, and their oppressors. This call is certain to cause profound echoes and repercussions in the entire Arab nations and in the world at large. Today is not just any day, it is the beginning of the end of the era of harems and slaves.”
Alas, if sheer hypocrisy could be personified in a person, it would be in the name of “Muammar Abu Miniar Al-Qaddafi.”
In the end, this monster died in isolation, in a nondescript refrigerated container, and naked from the waist down. Many people believed that he died the same way he ruled, that is, he was sexually tortured. The book concludes with these words, “Before his appointment with death, the rapist was raped.” Victims like Soraya would find his death too quick, swift and even convenient. They would have wished for the day when this sexual degenerate would be brought to Court to face his accusers, mostly women who had their own horrible tales to tell. But I guess this wish would remain unfulfilled like so many wishes for justice that had fallen on deaf ears in the world where evil usually casts a very long shadow on the piled up heap of innocent lives ruined and destroyed by it. Cheerz...?