LWPP and Karama condemn the arrests of Ibtisam and Rabia Bin Omran, and call for their immediate release

The work of Ibtisam and Rabia Bin Omran has received coverage from international media

Karama & the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace condemn the arrests of Ibtisam and Rabin Bin Omran and call for their immediate release.

Last week sisters Ibtisam and Rabin Bin Omran, who run an animal shelter in Benghazi, were arrested by Libyan authorities. 

The Facebook page belonging to the Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Libyan Government in the East has published a video of the arrest claiming that the two animal rights defenders have been carrying out ‘suspicious activities’. The video included inflammatory images supposedly taken during the raid that imply the sisters were involved in witchcraft, putting their lives in great danger. 

The Bin Omran sisters’ family members and lawyers have been been denied contact with them. The webpages of the sisters and their NGO, which have documented violence and harassment targeting them, have been taken offline. 

The family’s lawyer has reported that the sisters have not been formally charged, but they have been transferred to custody of the interior security services and pressure has been put in them to sign papers.

Ibtisam and Rabin Bin Omran’s animal welfare work in Benghazi has received wide coverage from international media. Their arrest is another example of targeted harassment and violence perpetrated against women in Libya.

Libya is still riven with gender-based violence and conflict-related sexual violence. Many women - those active or prominent in their communities or not - face online and offline harassment and character assassination. 

Allegations of witchcraft are a common means through which women are defamed in order to drive them out of public life. 

The UN’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya has documented patterns of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and gender-based violence (GBV). These include forcible disappearance of women - such as Member of Parliament Seham Sergiwa - arbitrary arrest coupled with sexual violence and gender based violence - such as the daughter of murdered lawyer Hanan Al-Bara'asi - as well as forced and early marriage and domestic violence.

The most recent Report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya states that there “is no protection or accountability for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Libya”. This is why two sisters who have dedicated their lives to the welfare of animals can be harassed with impunity, arrested without charge, with public officials making accusations about them online. 

We call for the immediate release of Ibtisam and Rabin Bin Omran, and for accountability for the countless acts of violence against women and girls in Libya