Rape: A Case Where No One Wins
It took just a few hours for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former leading steward of the world economy, and contender for the French presidency, to fall from grace, accused of molesting a maid in a posh New York hotel.
On May 14, images of the 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn were being beamed all over the world, paraded as an alleged criminal facing eight counts, including alleged rape and criminal sexual acts. But now as the case against him begins to unravel, the French multimillionaire is looking more like the victim. It has also renewed claims that he was set up by political rivals.
The latest buzz is that prosecutors doubt the veracity of claims made by the 32-year-old Guinean chambermaid who is being characterised to be an old hand at lying about being raped. There are also charges that she is linked to a drug dealer, and she has received hefty inflows into her bank account.
Strauss-Kahn's defence will claim consensual sex to explain the DNA evidence found by investigators.
The case, with its many twists and turns, is being hotly debated around the world and is likely to come down to whom is seen as more credible - him or her - since there were no witnesses. It has also raised some interesting questions about the issue of rape, including how it is investigated and how there can be equally fair treatment for the accused and the accuser.
First, we submit that rape is a horrible crime. It is also a disturbingly under-reported crime. Rape and other sexual crimes should be thoroughly investigated, especially since the victims are usually young, poor and marginalised. Therefore, only proper and meticulous investigation will guarantee a restoration of credibility in the prosecutorial process.
In rape cases, the victim usually remains anonymous, while the accused is paraded before the world. Would it be more reasonable in the administration of justice that a person accused of sexual crimes to be only identified on conviction in a court of law?
Take the case of Mr Strauss-Kahn, who was forced to give up his job as head of the International Monetary Fund. Was he the target of extortion? If, indeed, his accuser lied, how will he begin to repair his tarnished reputation?
And what of the alleged complainant? It has been reported that the woman involved in this case is a single mother and a devout Muslim. How will this affect her life and that of her child? Will she be stigmatised by those who can identify her? In the end, no one seems to come out of such encounters victorious.
There are suggestions that, as the case appears near to collapse, Strauss-Kahn's backers think he still has a chance to snatch the presidency from the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy. Yesterday's press conference and counter-press conference by the victim's attorney and the District Attorney's Office, respectively, are turning the case into more of a sensational circus than it already was.
Whatever the outcome of this highly publicised case, the French electorate might very well weigh, in the presidential ballot, Strauss-Kahn's willingness to engage in casual, reckless sex with a stranger and the lore of his previous capricious affairs.
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July 2, 2011
July 2, 2011