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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/11/11

Strauss-Kahn Case- A Case of Gender, Race, Class and Politics

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The dynamics of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case have all the elements of race, gender, class and politics, all rolled into one, all too familiar story. The case, an immigrant Muslim African hotel maid allegedly sexually assaulted by the rich and powerful former International Monetary Fund managing director, is in danger of following the path of many less prominent rape and sexual assault cases, where the victim is prosecuted by the system. It is supposed to be the defendant that is prosecuted and not the other way around. But too often, prosecutors decline to vigorously pursue the case and throw rape victims under the bus. Studies show non-white rape victims fare even worse than white women in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Rape cases are notoriously difficult to convict without any DNA evidence and only the verbal accusations of a rape victim. They become a credibility battle of he said and she said. And yet even in the Strauss-Kahn case, with DNA evidence, the defendant appears well on his way to a dismissal or dropping of charges on his next court date of August 1, 2011. Rape and sexual assault cases are often held to a higher standard than other violent crimes. The prosecutor--and often the public and the media--is quick to judge the victim, her past and anything negative about her in deciding whether to pursue the case to trial. The only exception appears to be the child abduction sexual assault cases.

In reviewing what has been revealed in the mainstream media and in speaking to sources, the evidence of a sexual assault occurring in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case seems so compelling. First and foremost, there is the undisputed DNA of Strauss-Kahn found on the victim's clothing and on the carpet floor of the hotel suite. After allegedly having forced oral sex with Strauss-Kahn, she spits out his semen onto the floor. Despite what we see on CSI and other TV shows, DNA evidence is not always present. That's the very strength of this case. The defense claims the sex was consensual. I find that difficult to accept.

The young immigrant maid was known by her co-workers to have an excellent record and did a good and attentive job. She worked at the Sofitel hotel while struggling to raise her teenage daughter. She had no reason to try to lose her job by having oral sex with a hotel guest. By way of some background, Taina Bien-Aimà , executive director of Equality Now, says the hotel maid came to this country with her daughter from Guinea, one of the poorest countries in Africa, where the majority of people earn $1.25 a day. Born in a hut, she is a victim of female genital mutilation like over 90 percent of women in her country. She did not want her daughter to suffer the same fate. To her, cleaning hotel rooms is a dream job.

But, all is not good. There's troubling inconsistencies, asylum application and tax records lies and bank record problems. Yet, this former prosecutor of rapes and sexual assaults stands with the victim and analyzes the case from a legal and political perspective.

To read more, see Women's Media Center Exclusive: DSK Case: Gender, Race, Class and Politics

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Washington DC based Debbie Hines is a lawyer, former prosecutor and legal/political commentator. She frequently appears on television commenting on gender and race issues in law and politics. As an ivy league educated woman of color, she speaks (more...)
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