U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accused the forces of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi of using rape and violence against women as "tools of war," and says other governments in the Middle East region have also employed sexual violence.
In a written statement, Clinton says the United States is "deeply concerned" by reports of wide-scale rape in Libya.
The statement says the U.S. is also "troubled" by reports that governments "across the Middle East and North Africa" have used "sexual violence" to intimidate and punish protesters seeking democratic reforms.
The statement said "rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called 'virginity tests' have taken place in countries throughout the region."
The statement noted that the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into the alleged use of sytematic rape by Qaddafi's forces against opponents in the Libyan conflict.
RFE/RL’s Central Newsroom