Just about everyone can agree that Australia's top Muslim imam is wrong in comparing women to meat who deserve to be raped for their immodesty, but the right answer is not always so clear-cut.

A Muslim cleric's claim that women who do not wear the veil are like 'uncovered meat' who attract sexual predators sparked outrage around Australia yesterday.

Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, the nation's most senior Muslim cleric, compared immodestly-dressed women who do not wear the Islamic headdress with meat that is left uncovered in the street and is then eaten by cats. ...

In a Ramadam sermon in a Sydney mosque, Sheik al-Hilali suggested that a group of Muslim men recently jailed for many years for gang rapes were not entirely to blame.

There were women, he said, who 'sway suggestively' and wore make-up and immodest dress "and then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years. But the problem, but the problem all began with who?" he said, referring to the women victims.

Blaming rape victims who don't wear burkhas is clearly ludicrous and evil, but are all those who cry "rape" completely innocent? (The age of consent in Ohio is 16 years old.)

The week before the show, Mango's entertainment director Holly Everson began to lay the groundwork, recruiting local girls to kick-start the action. In an e-mail to the 17-year-old Falls girl, Everson wrote, ``call me if you want to be part of Girls Gone Wild on Weds. @ Mangos... Ill hook you up, all you gotta do is be there at 9 and dance on the bar all night and have fun.'' ...

The recipient of Everson's invitation doesn't talk like a typical teen. She is direct and well-spoken, and clearly intelligent.

Hard to square that kind of acumen with the girl who at 9:15 p.m. on Sept. 13 rolled into Mango's with a female friend to make $50 to dance on top of the bar and ``get things going,'' as she was instructed. They were among four young girls recruited to liven things up.

The Falls girl says it was made clear to her that she and her fellow insiders would be treated to an open bar.

And what did she drink that night? ``I think a better question would be, `What did I not drink?' '' she replies.

The drunker she got, the more she took off. By roughly 11 p.m., she was gyrating on the bar, exposing everything at one time or another, as perhaps 350 customers hooted their approval and three GGW photographers documented the action, two with video cameras and one with still. ...

As closing time neared, she says, she and several other girls were invited out to the bus. She was the first in line and, after she climbed aboard, she says, the others were barred. While she was partially passed out, the cameraman who had been watching her came up from behind and forced himself on her, she says.

There may have been a rape, but could it possibly be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt"? Is the 17-year-old here completely blameless? In my experience, the commenters who will be hardest on this girl will be other women.



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