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1776-systematic rapes Robert Sheridan bobsheridan bobsheridan@earthlink.net Early in my lawyering, I was assigned for several years to prosecute rape cases.

Always a challenge, even in the most provable circumstances.

Many men cannot admit the offense, regardless of the clarity of the proof. "She consented," is often the defense.

Societies have always had difficulty with the proof aspect. Male dominated societies tend to make the charge difficult to prove, erring on the side of protecting bad men to save the falsely accused good men. I've seen a number of bad women falsely accuse innocent men. No one has a monopoly on virtue in the accusation game.

Other societies tend to err the other way.

Either way you wind up with more injustice than the falsely accused can stomach, or the truly raped.

The best way I know to deal with the subject is to investigate very carefully.

This is easier said than done, as investigating is a game all its own, and usually occurs out of the spotlight. Lots of whitewashing is called investigating. Lots of investigating is simply incompetent. Either way, the innocent lose and the guilty win.

We think of rape as a sex crime. Since that's how the abuse manifests itself, I guess that part is true. Wiser people than me have termed it an abuse of power. Which accounts for armies, and local lords, abusing the fact that they have the power and the young women don't, sexually.

In Kosovo, last year, we learned that the Serbian soldiers raped Muslim women just to disgrace them, knowing that their families would disown them. If they impregnated Muslim women with Serbian fetuses, so much the worse for the disgrace. Rape as a political tool. It was a revelation to me. So much for the Rape of the Sabine Women and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers starring, who? Howard Keel in the mid-Fifties?

I felt that the atrocities of the Balkans were like a window onto a world that I thought had long gone by. Learn something new every day. We think we're civilized because we live in the here and now. I've got news.

-rs



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