Friday, May 20, 2011

D.S.K.O. - of privacy and feminism

Baudry on the DSK affair as seen on Rue89

I know this does not relate directly to Beirut/NTSC but the whole Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) affair got me thinking about first of all, issues of privacy. I remember when I was in Sweden, a Lebanese singer was involved in a drug charge at the airport. The next morning it was the talk of the town among the participants of the Democracy and Journalism workshop... Our leader, Saam Kapadia, was more than exasperated to hear us talk about it, becuase in the Swedish system the identity of the accused remains secret until the verdict is out so as for the person to keep his name clear.
Naturally, in the US law, there is too the presumption of being innocent until proven guilty... But a personal friend of mine has been like DSK accused of rape in Britain - the point is - all the press spoke of his arrest but none spoke of his innocence. Not only this, his employer terminated his contract, and while an amicable settlement has been reached financially, the fact that he was cleared was not taken into consideration.
Of course, when someone as big as DSK is involved in such a matter, it would be difficult to keep the identity of the accused person secret. But what about the accuser? Her name was leaked to the media one way or the other. One of the most puzzling justifications comes from the slate.fr website. On the one hand, they wrote a very interesting article about her character and personality as viewed by her family, neighbours and friends, but the other they justified the name leak by saying: That the first reason for leaking the name was because they wanted to protect her from the consipracy rumors which are running wild, and "if the name seems odd to our readers, it is very common among the inhabitants of Guinea. The name of this young woman is as common as Francoise Martin in France or Jane Smith in the USA. [...] We wouldn't have done otherwise had the name been less common."
Which in effect means that even for someone as respectable as Slate, it is a matter of detail not of principle.
The other aspect in this whole debacle, is that of the definition of who is the "victim"... Is it the woman? Is it DSK? Is it France? Is it the Inertnational Monetary Fund?... Whereas I am in no position to know what happened in Suite 2806 in Sofitel Manhattan (and I am sure no one apart from the protagonists will be sure), I can simply say that - for heaven's sake - a woman claims rape and no one takes her seriously. Beirut/NTSC has been previously falsely accused of being anti-feminist... An accusation that still bugs me till now. The above caricature by Baudry remarks the cinycism of the chauvinist point of view: "And have you seem the chambermaid? She had tits!Yes! And a mouth too! Yes! A mouth!".... So it's her fault she's part of the "nigger of the world" as John Lennon labelled them.
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