A blog on Bosnia, the Balkans, and other random thoughts.
I am glad some long sentences have come in a couple of cases, but as one victim advocate said, not even a life sentence is equal to the crime. The woman who has been raped has to figure out how to live with the physical damage, the pain, the fear, the humiliation, and the possibility of AIDS infection, the decision of whether or not to abort, which frankly in case of rape, I personally favor. It's not just a 'question of honor' it's a legal, medical and psychological question for the entire culture when rape is used as a means of war.People who commit rape are more likely to reoffend than most other criminals. The likeliehood of rapists reoffending is higher as they get older too. Most other sorts of criminals are reformable. Thieves, murderers even can learn not to commit the crime that got them to jail. Rapists, and pedophiles are different, and don't forget, a lot of rapes in time of war, are rapes of children, not even of grown women. Rapists are among prisoners the most despised by other prisoners.I am particularly disappointed in the judges who have revealed the names of victims and of protected witnesses. It is totally wrong, and I think they need to face some sort of sanctions. Being a judge is a HUGE responsibility. These judges should be regarded as traitors to Bosnia and Hercegovina, they should go to jail for lengthy sentences themselves as aiders and abbettors. Preferably they should have to be in the company of the rapists they let off so lightly.Law exists so that people do not resort to revenge, and if law fails, revenge rules. If this situation in BiH, Rwanda, Sierre Leone, Darfur, etc isn't dealt with properly what happened to the women will become the seeds of the next genocidal war, and this stuff gets paid back with interest.Part of the problem as I see it is I don't care what culture or religion,or race, too many societies regard women as property. There is no admission of this fact, but it is a fact.
I think you hit some good points. One, is that rape (especially war time rape) is a form of destruction perpetrated against an entire ethnic group. Obviously the direct victims are the primary victims of the attack; but in war time rape; it is the entire society which is victimized and which feels the effect of the rape. Secondly, rape is many ways can be very deadly; and just as deadly as shooting someone. For example, take the number of cases of AIDS that have stemed from rape cases. Fortunately, I don't think there were that many incidents (if any) of AIDS as a result of the ethnic-cleansing rapes that took place in Bosnia in 1992.Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Rwanda. The number of AIDS cases as a direct result of the Interhamwe's rape of Tutsi women is astronomical. Added to the fact that a number of those of women got pregnant, and transfered the virus to their babies; and well, 13 years after the genocide "ended" the genocide is still going very strong. It also seems as if some of the judges really need some sensitivity training as well!
Something that impressed me about Roy Gutman's book was the willingness of the rape victims to have their picture taken and published. Their bravery serves as a permanent reproach to those who committed those crimes and also to those who pretend they didn't happen.
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