Saturday, April 30, 2011

Qadhafi encouraging mass rape: U.S. official

A top United States official has alleged that Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qadhafi supplied Viagra, a drug to treat sexual impotence, to his forces to encourage them to commit mass rape.

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, reportedly brought up the Viagra issue “during a discussion about whether there is moral equivalence between the Qadhafi forces and the rebels”.

Media reports said her statements were based on claims by the Al Jazeera news channel last month that “Libya-based doctors... had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Qadhafi soldiers”.

The Guardian quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying “I was in the room when she mentioned Viagra... She listed human rights abuses by Gaddafi's forces, including snipers shooting children in the street and the Viagra story.” The report added that Ms. Rice was “trying to persuade doubters that Libya was not just a civil war and that Qadhafi was encouraging human rights abuses.”

Diplomatic sources reportedly said that no one else present at the meeting responded to the allegation and it “did not cause a stir.”

However contradicting Ms. Rice, NBC News carried comments by U.S. military and intelligence officials to the effect that there was no evidence that Colonel Qadhafi's forces were being supplied Viagra and engaging in systematic rape in rebel areas.

According to media reports, “The officials added that although rape has been used as a weapon in many other African conflicts, they have not seen reports of that coming from Libya.”

Apart from the political angle, Ms. Rice's claim also begs the medical question of what effects the drug has on the human body. Speaking to The Hindu a doctor said, “Viagra does not affect libido, it only acts locally. Further it has a limited period of action.”

She added that the link between Viagra and sexual drive was “very weak,” and concurred that it would only result in mass rape in this case if the soldiers were anyway intent on committing rape and at the same time suffering from problems relating to sexual impotence.

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