Saturday, 2 July 2011

Well, that's that...

So she has a name. It's Nafissatou Diallo. A pretty woman, with a pretty smile.

A pretty woman who lied about being gang-raped to bolster her case for asylum in the US. A pretty woman who lied about her income and its sources, hiding the fact that tens of thousands of dollars of (probably ill-gotten) money had been deposited in her bank account. A pretty woman who lied to the government about how many children she had, to up her tax benefits. A pretty woman who has now--after the case blew up--been characterized as a hotel "working girl" who provided special "turn-down" services to male guests for big tips. A pretty woman who's been accused of running a pyramid scheme, scamming her fellow Guineans out of money.

A pretty woman who lied about her activities immediately following the alleged attack by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but whose amended account still cannot be confirmed by hotel card-key data. A woman who phoned an incarcerated man within hours of the alleged assault to discuss how best to benefit from it, telling him, "Don't worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing."

Was she raped? I honestly don't know. Maybe she was. And if so, it sucks that she's never going to get justice.

But one thing I do know--if DSK's name had been kept from the press, if every news outlet hadn't splashed his name all over the place and speculated mostly upon his guilt rather than his right to due process, if every politician and powerful, wealthy man across the globe wasn't watching the case like a hawk, if prosecutors didn't have to eat crow over their crappy complainant after putting DSK through the indignity of a publicized perp-walk and forcing him to pay millions for bail and hundreds of thousands for his own house arrest measures...if this was a quiet sexual assault case without eight-hundred spotlights shining on it because of the accused's notariety, Nafissatou Diallo's chances of getting justice, if indeed she was assaulted, would have been a hell of a lot better.

With all the attention the case was getting, no prosecutor in his right mind would move forward with it once their complainant was outed as a pathological liar for personal gain. Who wants to fight that battle in front of the global media?

If she was raped, rape shield protection for the accused would have done nothing but help her chances of seeing her rapist punished through the criminal justice system.

So why aren't we extending that protection in all cases of rape and sexual assault? Because feminists want those names and faces plastered all over the media, so the "rapists until proven innocent" will be suitably punished even if they're acquitted on a technicality, and to hell with the innocent who get punished along with them.

Right now, a woman can ruin a man with a single accusation even if the case is abandoned long before trial, and if she does it out of malice, it's very very rare that we ever learn her name. She will almost never face any real penalty for doing so. And the innocent? Fuck 'em, I guess.

Unilateral rape shield anonymity has turned sexual assault crime into a modern version of the Salem witch trials, one that makes Lord of the Flies look civilized by comparison. If we must keep rape shield laws in place, there is no better time than now to push for those laws to extend to protecting the anonymity of the accused in rape and sexual assault cases.

1 comment:

  1. You misquote Nafissatou, actually, but you're definitely not the only one to do it. Here is the language from the NYT piece:

    When the conversation was translated — a job completed only this Wednesday — investigators were alarmed: “She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,’ ” the official said.

    I'm not sure what should be done about rape shield laws, or even moreover publicizing accusations prior to convictions. I'm not even sure if this accuser or instead the media is more irresponsible here.

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