(Apologies in advance to male readers, but rape is not a subject about which Polimom can claim to be moderate.)
Last spring came the news that American troops had brutally raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in Mahmoudiya, murdered her and her family, and then attempted to cover their crimes by burning her body and blaming insurgents. It is, for me, the most revolting story to have come out of Iraq, bar none.
Yesterday, one of the perpetrators cried as he gave testimony in exchange for sparing his pathetic, miserable life:
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – A U.S. soldier broke down in tears in court as he described his role in the gang rape and slaying of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family last year.
He said Wednesday he raped 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family’s home in Mahmoudiya last March, and that Spc. James Barker, 24, held her down.
“I lifted up her skirt and took off her stockings while Barker held her hands with his knees,” he said before admitting that he raped the teenager as she screamed. “After I was done, myself and Barker switched spots.”
Cortez offered no explanation for his involvement in the rape and murders, only saying that his intent was to rape the girl. The killing of the family was originally reported to be the work of insurgents.
He cried. What an ironic emotion to display when his crime was a manifestation of this most base, animalistic male indulgence. There’s never an excuse. There is no explanation. It’s always wrong.
In the middle of inflamed sectarian hostilities and war, though, it takes on a whole new dimension, and when the atrocious Mahmoudiya story broke last year, outrage centered up on Americans. “This type of thing just doesn’t happen here”, said many in Iraq.
Sigh… Yes. It does.
As bizarre as this might sound, I almost wish rape could be called an American phenomenon. At least it could then be isolated within some cultural framework. But this ugly crime happens everywhere and anywhere there are men, and objects they can use to make themselves feel powerful.
It always has, and a society that doesn’t talk about it isn’t free from it.
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Update: WaPo has the story, now, about the second rape allegation.