Human Rights Watch slapp ifjor inn i Libya for første gang. I en rapport får myndighetene betinget ros, for visse fremskritt, i det minste på papiret. Men å lese rapporten om kvinner som låses inne på det som minner om krisesentre, er nedslående. Kvinner har ikke stor verdi som enkeltindivider. En kvinne som voldtas blir stengt inne. Eneste vei ut er om det dukker opp en mann som vil ha henne.

Den summariske beskrivelsen lar oss ane skjebnen til jentene som blir holdt inne, uten rettigheter. Dette skjer et par timers flyreise fra Italia.

The government of Libya is arbitrarily detaining women and girls in «social rehabilitation» facilities for suspected transgressions of moral codes, locking them up indefinitely without due process. Portrayed as «protective» homes for wayward women and girls or those whose families rejected them, these facilities are de facto prisons. In them, the government routinely violates women’s and girls’ human rights, including those to due process, liberty, freedom of movement, personal dignity, and privacy. Many women and girls detained in these facilities have committed no crime, or have already served a sentence. Some are there for no other reason than that they were raped, and are now ostracized for staining their family’s «honor.» There is no way out unless a male relative takes custody of the woman or girl or she consents to marriage, often to a stranger who comes to the facility looking for a wife.

The official bylaw governing Libya’s social rehabilitation facilities states that they are to provide housing for «women who are vulnerable to engaging in moral misconduct.» The facilities are supposed to «protect» these women and girls from violence by relatives in the name of «family honor,» and to rehabilitate women deemed to have transgressed socially-accepted norms of behavior. But this is protection gone seriously awry: suffering a range of human rights abuses in the facilities, most of the women and girls Human Rights Watch interviewed said they wanted to leave, and would escape if they could.

Human Rights Watch visited two social rehabilitation facilities in April and May 2005. Some of the women and girls we interviewed were confined because they were accused—but not criminally convicted—of having had extramarital sex. Others had served prison sentences for engaging in extramarital sex, and were transferred to the facilities because no male family member would take custody of them. Many had been raped, and then evicted from their homes by their families.

Libya is violating some of the most basic principles of human rights law in the operation of these facilities. The women and girls we interviewed had no opportunity to contest their confinement in a court of law, and had no legal representation. Staff did not allow them to leave the compound gates. They also subjected them to long periods of solitary confinement, sometimes in handcuffs, for trivial reasons like «talking back.» Women and girls were tested for communicable diseases without their consent, and most were forced to endure invasive virginity examinations upon entry to the facilities. The only education the government offers girls in these facilities is weekly religious instruction.

Libya: A Threat to Society?Arbitrary Detention of Women and Girls for «Social Rehabilitation»