An out-of-court settlement has allowed three rapists to walk free.

Three young men have returned home to Melbourne, Australia, escaping prison time, after pleading guilty to raping a 17 year-old girl in Croatia last year.

Facing 15 years behind bars, the trio agreed to pay $30,000 to the victim and cop a sentence of one year in prison, which was immediately suspended to a five-year good behavior bond.

The bond, however, is only enforceable in Europe, ultimately freeing the men from any consequences in their home country.

“If you actually have money and you’re wealthy you can actually quite clearly get away with doing some very dangerous and bad things in Croatia,” Centres Against Sexual Assault spokeswoman, Carolyn Worth said.

Twenty-three year-olds Dylan Djohan and Ashwin Kumar, and 21 year-old Waleed Latif reportedly assaulted and raped the Norwegian girl at a nightclub in Spit, Croatia in July 2015. The victim reported the assault to police, which resulted in forensic evidence being found on her clothes.

The arguably benign out-of-court settlement has sparked outrage, with many demanding the three men be placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

It’s cases like this that highlight the needs for legislation around sexual assault to be tightened on an international scale. Just last year a similarly disturbing case played out when a Saudi millionaire was acquitted of rape, after claiming he mistakenly fell into his victim’s vagina.

Rape is a complex issue, made all the more difficult by the fact it’s estimated even when a sexual assault meets the legal definition of rape, nearly two-thirds of victims don’t label it as such. Consequently, 85 per cent of cases never come to the attention of the criminal justice system, and of those actually reported, an even smaller proportion proceed to trial, with a tiny percentage resulting in a successful conviction.

If we continue to allow rapists to walk free, whether by means of paying their way out of prison or pleading ignorance, we will ultimately continue to teach young women that their bodies are not their own, to do with as they choose, rather than as men dictate.

Featured image via Instagram: Ash, Kumar and Dylan Djohan, who were charged with raping a 17 year-old girl in Croatia.

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