Free as in Press?

In the past few days I’ve been wanting to know what happened to the sexual violence allegations and charges that were pressed against leaders, seniors, freedom fighters lately. You know who I mean.

I failed. I failed not because these stories are kept in secret, but because it seems that the press just don’t know how to report them.

It’s not like I wasn’t trying to find out. But 3-4 articles (to each person involved) – in two languages – told me the same: nothing. I might have been surprised, but here’s the problem: I still read the papers, and I know what to expect. When Christine Lagarde became the head of the IMF, all the paper – the so called Israeli highbrow financial paper – wanted me to know about her fitness to the role is that she was a member of the French national synchronised swimming team. Why on Earth would I need to know more about her opinions on the crisis or the economy? That’s hardly as relevant as this, isn’t it? [the article was slightly edited later, to include some of her more valid resume. Still nothing about her recent actions or opinions].

And it’s the same story with those hidden allegations and charges. Why would I want a valid reason for the charges against the previous IMF head to be dropped, other than that the alleged victim is poor? Or has HIV? Or, God forbid, involved with crime gangs? Surely these kind of women never get raped. And if they are, it’s their fault (yes. I actually read the reasons mentioned about as questions as valid reasons to why the charges against Strauss-Kahn were dropped. The words “because she lied” never appeared in any of them).

Pressing charges against people and especially against people-with-power on grounds of sexual violence is a big deal. It’s a big deal to make, to find the courage, to go to the police, answer questions. Then again, I’m with what seems to be the minority when it come to take sexual violence seriously.

It starts with how you tell the story. It continues when the papers replaces “rape” with “surprise rape”, with “sexual assault” and “abuse” as all of them are the same thing. It ends when and where people feel free and right to seek revenge on others using allegations and charges of sexual violence on things which don’t have anything to do with it. Sexual violence is still a taboo, to both sides. The way that most papers are reporting it contributes to the taboo and serves no justice to the truth in the base of these allegations.

That’s why I wanted to know what was the end of these charges and allegations. Because pressing charges is just one step. Because I know that sexual violence is taken seriously in the highest levels when I’ll read the end of the legal/public process as well, with better – or should I say, the true – reasoning. All of this is important, because I take rape – and therefore, also false charges of rape – seriously. Yet, all I found in the press is one more easy way to take down other men (and again, I have no idea if those senior leaders are guilty or not. Who needs facts when you can degrade the alleged-victim).

Feminist struggle (also) began because there were some (well, majority of) voices that weren’t heard. Voices that were crucial for a notion of a true democracy. Exposure of facts and truths of how life is. Silencing and editing the parts we don’t like isn’t the way to get to a better, more equal future.

Update, 8/7/2011: after a week of following the media, I heard a radio news update this morning, saying that the Strauss-Kahn’s complainant didn’t tell the truth. Why was that so hard to begin with, media?


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