Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 at 1:54 pm
Author: Feature Writer
Gc contributor: Flavia Dzodan
Two days ago on May 6th, Francois Hollande won the French Presidential election for the Socialist Party. Once a Presidential hopeful for the very same party, Dominique Strauss Kahn watched the victory from the sidelines, alienated from his previous grand social and political standing, plagued by scandal after scandal and new accusations of sexual violence. On Friday, according to French newspaper Liberation, the judges in charge of the ongoing investigation of his link to the Carlton Lille Hotel prostitution ring announced that they are now investigating reports of a “gang rape” at the W hotel in Washington DC.
From the report at Business Insider:
The alleged victim, a 25-year-old Belgian call-girl referred to as Marie-Anne, says that the incident took place on the night of December 16, 2010, DSK.
DSK was in the room with the girl and other men when he began being violent. Marie-Anne says, “that is to say, he held my hands. Pulled my hair, he hurt me. I weigh 50 kilos, he is heavier.” The former head of the IMF then attempted to sodomize the call-girl, the newspaper reported.
“I refused and told him no, I do not want to. I tried to get loose but it was complicated because he was on me and he is very heavy (…). Admittedly, I did not scream, but I made it clear that I did not want, several times, out loud. “
This, however, is not the first time that witnesses, onlookers and participants of the alleged sex parties related to the Carlton Hotel prostitution ring mention Strauss Kahn’s violence. Back in March, Beatrice Legrain, one of the women now accused of being a facilitator of sex workers for Strauss Kahn, gave an interview where she described the alleged parties where Strauss Kahn met sex workers:
She also said that the former International Monetary Chief had attacked her during the party.
‘I got up to go to the bathroom and DSK followed me and in a passageway he grabbed me by my throat and said ‘it’s you who I want’,’ she added.
Strauss Kahn, once a very powerful member of Europe’s political elites is not taking all these accusations lightly. His reaction, initially one of silence and denial, has lately changed to reflect a growing resentment. In an interview for The Guardian, at the end of April, he went as far as accusing people close to (now former) French President Nicholas Sarkozy of orchestrating these claims to ruin his political career. He traces his initial downfall to the rape accusation at the Sofitel Hotel in New York in May of 2011.
While he does not believe the incident with Nafissatou Diallo was a setup, he said the subsequent escalation of the events on 14 May into a criminal investigation that destroyed his chances of winning the presidency had been “shaped by those with a political agenda” and that “more was involved here than mere coincidence”.
However, Strauss Kahn fails to address all the new charges that have emerged ever since and the subsequent accumulation of testimonies and allegations from many different women who came in contact with him both before and after the Sofitel allegations. Given the many different women involved, all their testimonies united by a common thread of violence, disdain for their humanity and alleged lack of consent, none of these episodes seem to be isolated or the result of misunderstandings. There seems to be a pattern of misogyny and entitlement in his dealings with women he perceives to be beneath his stature: hotel maids, sex workers, women involved in procuring sex workers or young and inexperienced journalists attempting to interview him. Journalist Tristane Banon said of her meeting with Strauss Kahn when she was 21 years old:
Strauss-Kahn lured the then 21-year-old trainee journalist to the property under the promise of an interview, and then started to rip her clothes off, it is claimed.
‘I kicked him, I called him a rapist, he didn’t seem to care,’ said Ms Banon in earlier interviews, in which she also described Strauss-Kahn as acting like a ‘rutting chimpanzee’.
As if the climate was not rarified enough, on Friday, France repealed a sexual harassment law on the grounds that the definition of the crime was too vague. This has created an uproar within feminist organizations who rightfully pointed out that the decision, by France’s highest constitutional body, would leave victims without legal protection until a new law is put into place. Reuters reported on this worrying latest development:
Former International Monetary Fund chief Strauss-Kahn was arrested last May, accused of sexual assault by a hotel maid. The charges were later dropped but the ensuing scandal cast a harsh light on a practice in France of hushing up or shrugging off sexual advances by powerful figures. Feminists demanded a change of attitude.
Strauss-Kahn had already been rapped over a sexual relationship with a subordinate in 2008, who said she felt pressured to sleep with him, and French writer Tristane Banon filed a complaint after the New York case alleging he tried to assault her in 2003.
Junior civil service minister Georges Tron was forced to resign in June after two women who had worked for him filed sexual harassment complaints. One said the debate sparked by the Strauss-Kahn scandal had prompted her to break her silence.
The law was overturned because it was contested by a former deputy mayor in the southern region of Rhone who had been sentenced to three months in prison and a 5,000 euro ($6,700) fine for sexually harassing three employees. His lawyers successfully argued that the law was too vague and that it did not cover the specifics of what had transpired between the former mayor and his accusers. The Constitutional Court agreed with the arguments and declared the law voided.
However, it could be months, or even more than a year, until there is new legislation into place. Meanwhile, all existing cases currently in court dealing with issues of sexual harassment have been dismissed and people who wish to bring new ones up cannot do so due to the fact that there is no law to contemplate the crime.
Dominique Strauss Kahn seems to be a visible symptom of a larger culture of misogyny and contempt for human rights. The fact that Strauss Kahn targeted already vulnerable women points to a seriously alarming potential consequences of this lawless state. People who are already considered easy targets for predators and susceptible to harm such as immigrants, trans women, queer people, and minorities are now left with practically no recourse to protect themselves. The law might have been “too vague”, but a state of no protection is very concrete and tangible: it tells potential predators that there will be no consequences for their actions. After all, some people do not seem to be worthy of legal safeguards.
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