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Dragica Vuković, a judge sitting on the Podgorica higher court, says she believes the sentences she and her colleagues are handing down are not unduly lenient.

She stresses each judge sentences strictly according to what is permissible within Montenegro’s criminal code. We assess the mitigating circumstances such as the financial standing [social situation] of the perpetrator, his family background, his age and attitude towards the victim after the act,” she says.

People from our legal system need a broader education, so they know how to treat rape victims and save [them] from undergoing secondary victimisation [in court],” says Rakočević.

Women ‘Second Rate Citizens’ Some believe Montenegro’s rape sentencing policy can be partly explained by the fact the country remains a highly patriarchal society.

“The legal system is asking for something it absolutely should not be – that the victim resists until the end of the rape… We should consider lack of consent,” says Rakočević.

Not so long ago, it was widely believed that simply wearing a short skirt or drinking alcohol was effectively asking for sex.

There are no centralised statistics available for rape sentencing.

With little public debate over rape sentencing and few victims willing to come forward and complain about the punishments their attackers receive, the penalties imposed on rapists are rarely subject to scrutiny.

Thus, the crime of rape appears to have been effectively reduced to the level of robbery.

Ljumobir Kotlica is a convicted rapist from the Montenegrin city Nikšić.

He will soon be a free man as his two-year prison sentence is about to come to an end.

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