French and African Media Out Name, Photo of DSK Accuser
[Update: Many of the reported details below about the background of the accuser have changed since this was written.]
I have always objected to the media naming the person accused of a rape crime, but shielding the name of his accuser. How is that fair? If the woman was stabbed, the U.S Media would name her.
There should be no stigma associated with rape. Rape should not attach a sense of shame to the accuser. But it does in many cases, and so these accusers are looked upon as perennial victims, when a much better word for them would be survivors. Keeping their names from the media perpetuates the antiquated myth that women who get raped are fragile and weak, and need someone to look after them. Releasing their names could empower them and remove them from being under a shadow of shame and the stigma that all too often accompanies women who are raped. By allowing them to be treated just like everyone else, perhaps society will come to accept that rape is an expression of violence, it is not really about the sex. Women have nothing to be ashamed of when dealing with the aftermath of a rape. They were the temporary victim of a violent crime, just like the person who got mugged. Naming the accuser, when the male suspect is similarly publicly named, levels the playing field and makes them equal. No one wants to be a permanent victim.
In the Dominique Strass-Kahn case, no one but the two of them know for certain what happened and didn't happen in that hotel room. [More..]
The accuser's sister, who lives in Harlem, and other relatives have been answering questions to French newspapers about her life. She appears to be 32. She followed her husband here in 1998 and has a green card. She has a 15 year old daughter she raised alone. She divorced her husband shortly after arriving here. (His family says he's very much alive, the widow stories are apparently untrue.) She lives in a fairly squalid 4th floor walkup in the Bronx, in a building designated for AIDS patients, although her lawyer says she doesn't have AIDS, and it was probably a sublet. In a building restricted to Aids/HIV individuals, are such sublets to one without the disease legal?
Her lawyer insists she didn't know who he was. But others at the Sofitel told French reporters that photos of the VIPs for the week are posted in their dressing area. DSK stayed at the Sofitel 6 times in 2010. She was working there 3 years. The Manager told the reporters that not every maid gets that assignment, only the good ones. It's not inconceivable that this might not have been their first encounter, just the first one that went awry. Escort services are now coming out of the woodwork to say they hooked him up with women many times. Maybe he had asked for a young woman dressed in a maid's outfit. Far-fetched? Yes. But outside the realm of possibility? No.
Another detail the U.S. media doesn't tell us: She's 5'11" tall. (160 centimeters.) He's supposedly 5'7". And she's 30 years younger.
She's living with her 15 year old daughter, struggling to make ends meet. Is it inconceivable that she might have figured out a way to make a little extra cash from the occupants of the big suites? She doesn't need to know their names -- she'd know that anyone staying in that room had enough money to engage in some hanky-panky.
In addition to revealing her name, the French and African papers have interviewed her family members, who all support her, and her photo, which shows she's very pretty. Some report : she is not a widow, but divorced her husband shortly after arriving here. His family says he's alive.
Slate, the U.S. news site, also publishes in France and Africa. Here are the links to their stories in French This site translates the Slate French article better than Google. Here's another in English with the photo. Le Monde, Figaro, all have her picture and details we aren't getting here, as does this site in English. Here's another. And Peace FM.
I'm not privy to enough facts to know what happened inside that room, but since we do have the presumption of innocence in this country, he is as entitled to it as anyone, and I'd caution against a rush to judgment that Dominique Strauss-Kahn committed a crime.
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