In this interview, French feminist Judith Ezekiel and Bay Area writer and activist Roxann Dunbar Ortiz talk about rape allegations against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and and how international feminists are organizing to counter media spin that puts the blame on the survivor. 19:05 min. Listen or Get MP3
African Organizations Speak Out in Support of Survivor
According to various sources, thé Senegalese Association of thé Legal Profession (l’Association des juristes sénégalaises [AJS]) and thé African Meeting for thé Defense of Human Rights (Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme [RADDHO] have issued a declaration supporting Nafissatou Diallo. In her declaration, Fatou Kiné Camara of the AJS, denounced "all strategies that consist in digging into the pas of the victim, trying to dirty her reputation or discredit her and thus to inverse the roles." Camara challenged African nations to see to it that the Nafissatous around the world no longer suffer such treatment in silence.
Global Feminists' Petition Demanding Justice
Rape is always about power and domination; it is sexualized violence.
Rape and sexual harassment of women are pervasive at all strata of society and in all corners of the globe. Women will never be fully free and able to enjoy equality with men until this ends. As feminists, we see the arrest of former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges as an opportunity to increase public awareness and as a wake-up call to renew action against sexual violence, not only in the US where his arrest occurred and in France, where media and many public figures are portraying him as the victim, but around the world.
We join French feminists in saying that just as Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty, his accuser must also be respected and believed to be credible unless proven false. We commend her employer, Sofitel, and the action of the NYC Police for taking her complaint seriously. We call for feminists around the world to join with her union (New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council Local 6) in collecting funds for legal and daily expenses, as her work is now curbed and life circumstances vastly altered. Contributions can be sent to Judson Memorial Church (attention Women's Fund) 55 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012-1018, or online at https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=ab6736 (write “women’s fund” in the comments box).
We also share French feminist indignation at the deliberate and opportunistic confusion of seduction and sexual violence, from Strauss-Kahn's declaration that he "loves women," to the journalists and politicians who rally behind this "Great Seducer." It is outrageous that the allegation of attempted rape during the course of a housekeeper's work day raises issues about any woman's life story and sexual history. And portraying powerful Strauss-Kahn as "too civilized" to commit a violent crime plays upon colonial and racist stereotypes vis-à-vis an African immigrant woman.
We adamantly oppose all harassment, sexual violence and rape, and we know that when there is a large discrepancy between the power, the wealth and racial hierarchy of the parties involved, justice is even harder to come by. All rapists and harassers believe they are entitled, and often when they are part of the power elite they assume that influence will outweigh the legal protection and freedom from coercion all women should enjoy. Feminists around the world demand that justice be done.
Women of all countries, unite!
Sign the petition