As you’re probably aware, rape is dominating the news right now. Political activist Julian Assange is currently fighting extradition to Sweden on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. But, asks writer and feminist campaigner Julie Bindel, who are the people supporting Julian Assange and what does it mean for victims of rape?
Assange - editor/founder of WikiLeaks, a media website which has published information from whistleblowers about, for example, the Iraq war – remains ‘a guest’ in the Ecuadorian Embassy at cost to the British taxpayer despite the allegations.
This would have been a relatively straightforward issue were Assange not wanted for questioning by Swedish police. The allegations come from two separate complainants, with the second complaininat's experience described in court (according to The Independnt) as follows: 'As he tried to penetrate her without a condom, she alleges, she repeatedly attempted to avoid penetration: her claim is that she tried "several times to reach for a condom which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and try to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom." Whilst the truth of the allegations has yet to be tried, should they be found to be genuine if that doesn't describe rape, then what does?
And yet because the US government is opposed to state secrets being made public, and has already imprisoned one of the whistleblowers accused of supplying information to the site, many left-wing folk are flocking to protect Assange from extradition, among them a slew of big names, utterly eclipsing the real issue here.
It started with George Galloway Respect MP for Bradford, who attacked the attempts to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden, arguing that "even if the allegations made by these two women were 100 per cent true. . . they don't constitute rape." Then came Jemima Khan’s brother the financier Ben Goldsmith, who tweeted, ‘I’m with @georgegalloway on Assange. Trumped up Swedish “rape” charges are a ruse to get him to an American jail. Scary stuff.’ Meanwhile rapper M.I.A, who stole into the embassy herself at Assange’s request prior to his speech, has said: “I don’t really believe the rape charges.” And finally, former MP and champion of the oppressed, Tony Benn , who said in a speech to the Stop the War Coalition, that although the sex Assange had with the two complainants may well have been non-consensual, it does not constitute rape. Shocking? Yes. Surprising? No.
Rape deniers are usually men (and women) from the conservative lobby, many of whom believe that women have a responsibility to keep ourselves safe by not drinking excess alcohol or wearing short skirts. Assange’s supporters are mainly left-wing human rights advocates. But what about women’s human rights?
In law an unconscious person cannot give consent. But women all over the world who know fine well what it is like to be raped and disbelieved will be appalled at this gang of so-called freedom of speech advocates painting Assange’s accusers as either lying opportunists or dupes of the Americans. Less than 6% of reported rapes end in a conviction in Britain. The rubbish spouted by Assange’s supporters will only further perpetuate the dangerous myths about sex crimes that result in most men being allowed to rape with impunity.