Libya: Zahra Langhi, women under attack, fight continues

Activists threatened, bans in West, Islamic militias' violence

28 February, 13:42

    (by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) - ASSUAN - Since the fall of Gaddafi ''violence against women in Libya has continued to increase'', Zahra Langhi, a human rights activist and co-founder of Libyan Women's Platform for Peace, told ANSAmed.

    Langhi, whose movement was created in 2011 with over 100 women from various sector of civil society, said that the North African country, ''from North to South, from East to West'' is experiencing daily ''assassinations, kidnappings, abuse and rape'', also ''by ''Islamic militias''.

    Libyan women, the activist said on the sidelines of the Aswan International Women Festival, which has just wrapped up, ''started the revolution but we did not fight to reach this''.

    Today's Libya, she stressed, is a no man's land. ''There is no rule of law, no Constitution and the Serraj government - which is internationally recognized - is very weak and does not control the territory. And women pay the highest price''.

    Many activists, including Langhi, had to leave the country.

    There is a ''systematic attack'' against them. ''Defamation campaigns also take place online, where we are often called whores. They say we represent a threat for national security''. Recent decrees imposed by the military government of Cyrenaica to prevent women younger than 60 from travelling alone outside the national territory (which were subsequently withdrawn) and the one that recently replaced it - which states that women and men aged 18 to 45 cannot leave the country without the authorization of military authorities - are just the tip of the iceberg.

    ''We have launched a campaign against the bans'', said Langhi.

    Langhi presented a documentary, Justice for Salwa, has the women's festival in Assual which has just ended.

    The film is in memory of the most well-known lawyer and women's rights activist in Libya, Salwa Bugaighis, who was killed in Benghazi in June 2014, on the day of elections for the new Parliament.

    In the country's pacification process, as well as for the theme of gender violence, the role of the religious sector appears key.

    In a few days, Langhi replied, a study called ''Mapping of the religious sector in Libya'' will be published, drafted with a team of researchers located in different parts of Libya, for the United States Institute of Peace. We have drafted a complete map of the religious presence in the entire country'', including the so-called Quietist Salafists (not directly involved in politics), the Salafites, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Wasati civil movement, the Sufis'' as well as the role of religious leaders''.

    Langhi will be in Rome the first week in March to meet with lawmakers and promote her awareness campaign on the gender issue in Libya. (ANSAmed).

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