Sirte, Libya: rebel fighters take cover during fighting against pro-Gaddafi forces (Photo: Reuters)
Libya will offer compensation to women raped during the 2011 NATO-backed uprising which toppled Muammar Gaddafi, its justice minister said on Wednesday, touching a taboo subject.
Hundreds of women may have been raped during the eight-month conflict, according to the International Criminal Court, which has collected evidence that pro-Gaddafi forces used rape as a weapon to spread fear among its opponents.
No exact figures for the number of women raped are available.
Human rights activists have pushed for compensation, but rape victims are often ostracised in the conservative Muslim country where discussion of the crime remains taboo, so it is not clear how many victims would actually come forward.
Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani said the cabinet had issued a law that would recognise women raped during the conflict as war victims, putting them on the same level as wounded former rebel fighters requiring medical treatment.
"This group (of women) is weak and needs our care," Marghani told reporters. "It (the law) will give them many rights...and cover also compensation."
He did not say what compensation the women would get. Other war victims are entitled to benefits that may include medical care, a safe place to stay and financial assistance.