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The Rape of Iraq: Deep Sexing the News
The picture in the paper of the young soldier being led away in handcuffs bore an eerie resemblance to the pictures of Lynndie England at her trial. Both young, scared and perhaps not truly sure of what they had done wrong. Like England, who suffered from learning disabilities and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome before entering the military, Private Steven Green, charged with the rape and murder of a young Iraqi girl and the murder of 3 members of her family, suffers from "anti-social personality disorder" which the military cited as the reason for his discharge earlier this year.
We will no doubt once again be assured that this was an isolated incident, a few low-ranking soldiers run amok. But it will be no more true now than it was at Abu Ghraib. The rape and murder of civilians has been a systemic tool of war since the dawn of time. It is simply not believable that we have been in Iraq this long without other incidents of rape and cold-blooded murder of civilians taking place. And in fact that has been documented by human rights organizations, NGOs and independent media.
But despite the enormous press coverage and airplay that this story is getting, the context in which the atrocity took place will only nominally be examined, if at all. That aspect of the story is not what is newsworthy. Or to be a tad more crass and honest, it is not what sells. And the dissemination of news is most definitely a business, one that is now owned and controlled primarily by large corporations who are far more concerned with the bottom line than with truth and integrity.
Many of the companies that make the news accessible are also heavily invested in the pornography industry, a form of media that makes much, much more money than does hawking the news. Knowing this, it should not be at all surprising that when a news story that contains the same elements as a good porn plot occurs, the media doesn't hesitate to frame the story from that angle. Sex sells. Violent sex sells even better.
Like Abu Ghraib, the brutal rape and murder of 15 year old Abeer Qasim Hamza was just such a story. Young soldiers, the supposed keepers of integrity and courage, defenders of our rights and values, in a premeditated act of sex and violence against a young, helpless girl who had earlier refused their taunts and advances at a checkpoint. The scene could just as easily been a script of a reality porn flick. In this sense, this story bears a resemblance to the coverage of cases such as the murder of Lacey Peterson as well as the Duke University rape allegations. Virile young men having their way in a manner that crosses the line of what is offensive in sufficiently obscene ways to be titillating and very marketable stories.