– Heather Ah San
The problem is, as soon as details of the case were released, they were immediately dismissed by the public. And in most ways, rightfully so. The timing was obviously suspect considering the circumstances and legal controversy surrounding WikiLeaks. Not to mention the Swedish government went to great lengths to extradite Assange.
What is so troubling about this dismissal is how easily the public is to dismiss the alleged rape and the women who made the claims. The circumstances surrounding this particular case are murky- there are rumors Assange forcibly held one woman down, that he had sex with a woman during sleep, or that his condom broke during sex (considered a crime in Sweden).
Also among the many rumored allegations, Assange’s accusers claim that the sex started consensually but eventually became non-consensual. A recent Salon.com article compared U.S. rape laws with Swedish rape laws. In Illinois, for example, if one partner withdraws consent after the sexual act has begun, but the other partner continues, law considers it rape. Similarly, Swedish laws follow the same protocol.
What I was surprised at, if not enraged at, was the negative, dismissive comments made about the article.
Much of the comments argued that these kinds of laws are “too” progressive- how could you prove withdrawal of consent? And if you can’t prove it, what’s the point?
And what was more troubling was the accusation that the women who made the rape charges are automatically opportunists, whores and not “real” rape victims because of their behavior towards Assange after the alleged rape (one threw a party for him, another had breakfast with him the next morning).
I agree with some of the points: it’s hard, if not impossible, to prove rape without evidence, not to mention the timing of the charges are suspect.
But I’m going to be the minority and say that just because these charges would be hard to prove, it doesn’t mean they didn’t happen.
Supporters of Assange, such as director Michael Moore, automatically dismiss the charges, arguing they “cheapen rape” and are an insult to real rape victims.
What really insults rape victims more is the automatic assumption of people like Moore that these victims aren’t victims, and what allegedly happened isn’t really rape.
Sure, I support the WikiLeaks organization, but I’m not about to turn a blind eye to these charges just because Assange is their founder. Yes, Assange is innocent until proven guilty, but shouldn’t victims be victims until proven otherwise? That’s the real insult.