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Libya's al-Obeidy in exile: My soul is liberated

By Nic Robertson, CNN
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Alleged Libyan rape victim looks forward
  • Eman al-Obeidy says she wants her alleged rapists to face trial
  • Al-Obeidy accused Libyan security officers of gang-raping her over two days
  • She says she feels free now that she is living in Qatar
  • She also thanked supporters who campaigned for her to be able to leave Libya

Doha, Qatar (CNN) -- The woman whose accusations of rape at the hands of Libyan security forces sparked an international outcry has spoken exclusively to CNN, now that she is living free in exile.

Eman al-Obeidy attracted worldwide attention when she walked into a hotel lobby packed with international journalists to accuse the regime of being behind the attack.

She told CNN what it's like to have left Libya, how she has changed since the incident and what she feels about her alleged attackers.

Al-Obeidy burst into the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, on March 26 to tell international journalists of her ordeal. She told reporters she had been taken from a checkpoint east of Tripoli and held against her will for two days while being beaten and raped by 15 men.

Her words and fear were seen around the world as Libyan officials dragged her out of the hotel.

Speaking in Doha, Qatar, she told CNN of the moment she first felt safe:

"I felt my soul is liberated. I am able to talk what I want, live like I choose. I was living in fear and I was worried and I was tired. It was a psychological issue.

"But when I arrived to Doha, I felt comfortable as if I have forgotten all these problems that happened to me. I felt so relieved."

In the past an Arab women that goes through what I gone through is something shameful but now our society has changed and now everyone feels with me and show me love
--Eman al-Obeidy
  • Libya
  • War and Conflict

She added: "I think about ideas of what to do next but at this time I will relax and see my family and consult with them for the future."

Al-Obeidy traveled to Doha after escaping Libya via Tunisia, about six weeks after she first approached reporters in the Rixos.

Al-Obeidy said: "I am not blaming anyone because Gadhafi is the one who controls them and gives them orders and I don't blame the Libyan people because there are men in Libya that have good conscience and good morals. Those that did that to me, they do not represent the Libyan men. "

She also explained what she was thinking during the attack she says happened in the home of a soldier.

"I was telling myself to fight and that these animalistic men will not escape without punishment. It's a must for me to talk even though people are going to think bad of me and blame me for the fact that I am a Libyan woman and Muslim going on air and talking about that. But all that did not matter to me and I felt I should do something. I felt I should expose the regime; they should be punished.

"It changed my view of people and view of life and that human beings shouldn't give up when problems face them. On the contrary they should face problems with courage and not feel ashamed and if they love themselves people will love them back.

"I have the will to avenge and get them punished. I am disgusted with them and I wish they get caught and punished. I do not want them to leave Libya. I want the regime to change in Libya. I want them to be in prison and watching their trial.

"To face the laws against crimes of violating and kidnapping and torturing. Our laws are severe and could lead to death sentence.

"I never used to hate people but now I reached this level of being capable of hating. People should speak out and say the truth.

"The more they threaten to kill me if I talk the more I wanted to speak out. Even if I did not have any protection from any part. All of them were against me. Those that raped me did change me but I am a better person now."

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said Libyan security forces are allegedly using sexual enhancement drugs and gang-raping women.

Al-Obeidy's story has also made her somewhat of a celebrity and she has words of thanks for her supporters.

To those who campaigned for her while she was still in Libya, she said: "... People are still human and have emotions that dominate them and that they feel with others, especially the American people felt with me, and I saw it on Facebook and wanted to do this interview to thank them and tell them I am doing fine.

"I feel I am loved and people feel with me and this makes me feel better. In the past an Arab women that goes through what I gone through is something shameful but now our society has changed and now everyone feels with me and show me love. I feel people love me and that makes me happy."

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