Gaddafi's Amazons: Strict training, no sex
Muammar Gaddafi's female bodyguards were known as the Revolutionary nuns. In Europe, they were known as Amazons, and in North Africa, they were known as Haris al-Has.
Their aim was to protect Libya's leader at all costs.
For years, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya was surrounded by forty made-up and fashion-decorated virgins who kept an eye on him and maintained his personal safety.
The Colonel was scared for his life and was guarded by a "gang" of attractive and well-trained female bodyguards for decades. Forty girls were in charge of his security.
Despite having graduated from Gaddafi's elite women's military institution in Tripoli in 1979, they all seem ready for the catwalk with their camouflage, high heels, and designer eyewear.
That academy came to symbolise "women's liberation" for Libyan women.
Gaddafi is said to have rationalised his decision by declaring, "I promised my mother that I would improve the position of women in Libya."
Gaddafi had previously been protected by East German secret services. The majority of his bodyguards came from Poland, Germany, and Bulgaria.
The Academy of Sciences
Although it was impossible for outsiders to gain access to this military institution, evidence gradually emerged that demonstrates how rigors the training programme is: rising up at 4:30 a.m., exercising for 90 minutes, and then attending classes focused on assault and defence strategies.
The three-year training programme covers all aspect of the military programme.
Hand-to-hand combat, rocket-guided grenade launching, and aeroplane piloting were among the abilities taught to pupils at the Academy.
The female bodyguards all renounced marriage and sex in order to defend Gaddafi till his death.
During the 1998 Islamic extremist attack, one of them carried out the oath when she threw herself at Gaddafi's commander. Aisha was her name. A hail of bullets killed her and injured two other female bodyguards.
He was apparently convinced that female assassins would shoot more powerfully, although he never explained why he chose only female bodyguards.
Furthermore, he believed that a combative, well-trained woman, like women in other Arab countries, would be able to protect herself in order not to fall victim—that is, become easy prey.
Their camouflaged clothing, high heels, and sunglasses belied their true identities, as they were all trained assassins who had completed their training at Tripoli's elite women's military academy.
Before they could begin bodyguard training, every female bodyguard had to be a virgin. If they pass the training and are individually selected for duty by the colonel, they must commit to celibacy.
They were all skilled with firearms and cold weapons, as well as martial arts.
They were intended to be combat-ready for formal gatherings, yet while wearing military uniforms, they were allowed to wear jewellery, high heels, and makeup.
Many close to him, however, claimed that the colonel just preferred the company of young women.
Libyan ladies during Muammar Gaddafi's reign
In 1975, Gaddafi published the Green Book, a small pamphlet detailing his political ideas. Throughout his presidency, teachers used his works in the classroom, and his quotations could be found all around Libya.
One of the chapters was about women and their place in society.
Although men and women are born equal, Gaddafi believes there are intrinsic differences between the sexes. As a result, they have distinct and specific functions in everyday life.
The Libyan leader went on to remark that while women have the right to work, their appearance should be tailored to them rather than the other way around.
Despite stating this in the Green Book, Libya's leader was emphatic that "women should be trained to fight, so that they do not become easy prey for their enemies." Having female bodyguards, he believes, is a step towards women's liberation.
Under Gaddafi's rule, women were permitted to attend colleges and universities. They could also work as engineers, doctors, nurses, or police officers.
At the time of his death in 2011, more than half of the university's students were female.
"Revolutionary nuns" at work
In 1981, the Revolutionary Nuns made their global premiere in Syria. During the trip, Gaddafi met with Syria's then-president, Hafez al-Assad.
In 1998, a mob of fanatics rushed Gaddafi's limousine in Derna, Libya.
In an attempt to save the Libyan leader's life, one of his bodyguards was killed; seven others were also injured.
Aisha, the Revolutionary Nuns' main security officer at the time, was the female bodyguard who saved his life.
In November 2006, Gaddafi and about 200 heavily armed bodyguards arrived at Abuja International Airport in Nigeria. When airport security refused to let them enter because they were armed, Gaddafi became enraged.
Following a brief clash between security and bodyguards, Libya's enraged leader prepared to march to the capital. The intervention of Nigeria's president at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo, only made matters worse.
Gaddafi arrived in Italy in June 2009, escorted by approximately 300 bodyguards.
He slept in a huge Bedouin tent in a central Rome Park during his vacation.
Is it also conceivable that Gaddafi was the first to identify today's global trend, which is the increased discretion required of female bodyguards?
Gaddafi's Amazons were dubbed "The Amazons who dress in Kalashnikovs like Gucci accessories." They sparked debate in the West because they were well-trained, handsome intelligence operatives who were also fashion oriented.
These were ladies who could knock you off your feet. And not only metaphorically!
The media labelled Gaddafi the "Libyan Hugh Hefner," accusing him of discrimination since he is surrounded by attractive girls; on the other side, some believed that the Gaddafi regime's decision to assign female bodyguards reflected its current views on gender equality.
The vast majority of women who served in the Revolutionary Guard were barred from seeing their families or spouses.
In 2001, a Libyan psychologist began researching the Revolutionary Guard's recruitment process. Only eight ladies testified because they were afraid to testify. They were afraid that fundamentalists and family members would assassinate them.
Despite the fact that many women considered Gaddafi as a liberator of women, numerous women accused the Libyan leader of sexual assault and abuse after his death.
Many women claimed that they were approached for sexual favours or coerced into joining the unit in order to be picked.
They testified that Gaddafi and a few other members of the leader's close circle sexually attacked them.