This week, prosecutors have asked a judge to drop the sexual assault case against former IMF Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the U.S. Mr. Strauss-Kahn was alleged to have raped 32 year-old African immigrant Ms. Nafissatou Diallo who was working as a hotel maid at the time. It was argued that Ms. Diallo had been inconsistent in details of the alleged attack therefore questioning the credibility of her story, and that “reasonable doubt” could not be fathomed. It is reported that Diallo spoke to a friend in prison about the case, mentioning his wealth, suggesting the possibility of a financial motive. Following a decision next week, if the case is dropped, Mr. Strauss-Kahn will be allowed to return to France.
Sexual assault allegations have traditionally been complex cases to draw judgement upon due to difficulties in forensics differentiating between a perhaps hurried or rough sexual encounter and a violent assault. Problems determining whether the incident was consensual or indeed even took place at all are also an issue due to the lack of witnesses usually present in such circumstances.
“Reasonable doubt” is of extreme importance in rape cases due to the hefty sentence that conviction carries, but, due to an increase in the number of false allegations made against celebrities for money or five minutes of fame, or made against sexual partners for revenge, women across the world who have suffered real sexual assaults are failing to acquire a conviction for their assailants.
Earlier this month Mr. David Tune of Doncaster was cleared of paedophilia claims after his former lover Victoria Haigh manipulated her seven year-old daughter claiming sexual assault from her father. The high court had heard how Miss. Haigh had “coached” her daughter to lie convincingly, posting the accusations on the internet.
It’s another tale to add to the string of false allegations women make against innocent men, tainting their integrity for the foreseeable future and slowly destroying the reliability of women’s’ claims in genuine attacks.Miss.Haigh could face imprisonment for her false accusations but her crimes against women across the world will be far worse in the long term.
Since the sexual liberation of women in the “swinging sixties” and subsequent decades, more and more have come to use sex not only as a weapon but to attain their much desired five minutes of fame. Many will remember the famous allegations made against David Beckham in 2004 in which his alleged extra-marital partner also became famous. In the past seven years Posh and Becks have had to repeatedly defend their marriage whilst Loos went on to enjoy a celebrity status, albeit at more “Z-list” than “A-list”, appearing on various reality television programmes.
Former team-mate of Beckham, Wayne Rooney also made headlines when it was alleged that he had sexual relations with a £1200-a-night prostitute Jennifer Thompson, an allegation which Rooney has never denied and almost cost him his marriage to his then pregnant wife Coleen. Even in this case of “bought services” Thompson sold her story to tabloids in order to make money out of her customer, most probably in an attempt to boost her career.
A news report by the BBC in 2007 suggested that around 85,000 women in the UK were the victims of rape in the UK in 2006 – around 230 cases a day! If even only half of that reported number were genuine that equates to over 40,000 women suffering a violent and horrific crime which can destroy mental health if the proper help is not provided.
It is yet to be decided whether Ms. Diallo’s case against Strauss-Kahn will be dropped but huge implications rest on either side of the argument; if she is indeed telling the truth and the case is dropped justice will be denied for a woman who has suffered a terrible ordeal and a dangerous man will walk free. On the other hand, if she is lying then this woman has destroyed the reputation and career of an important figure in global finance, something that is much needed in the current climate. If the judge rules that the case be dropped, we can but only hope that judicial systems will not let cases such as this and Miss. Haigh’s affect their opinion of other women who may be making authentic claims in the future. Let us also hope that women who are willing to use assault allegations as a weapon or sexual relations for self-gain will soon learn that implications of their actions are highly dangerous; god forbid that in the future those who have been found to lie about a sexual assault actually become a real victim of such an attack and find themselves untrustworthy in court due to their track record.