Aug 23, 2011
Rich white man in evading justice shocker
Let's get one thing straight right away: the rape case against Dominique Strauss Kahn was dropped because the woman accusing him was not considered good enough to deserve state justice. That's it.
It doesn't actually matter if you think she wasn't considered good enough because of her race, her immigration status, her past, her behaviour right after the attack, what she told the prosecutors and how she told it. At the end of the day, the state has decided that a person against whom a crime was allegedly committed is missing something essential that would make them eligible for the state's protection.
A criminal offence is an offence against the state; when you are sent to prison for looting, you are not being punished for hurting the person whose shop window you stove in, but for violating the law of the land. The shop's owner may or may not be involved in your trial, and if they are it will be as a witness only.
When you read about rape cases as much as I do though, you realise that we live in this completely topsy turvy world in which women who allege rape are not treated like witnesses in a criminal trial, but litigants in a libel case: they are invested with a responsibility of proving that a crime has been committed.
Women, under this system, are not considered to be as automatically deserving of the state's full legal might backing them up like, say, elderly barbers are. Only if they prove, outside of a court of law and under unwritten rules rife with Catch-22s, that a crime has been committed against them, will the state mobilise for the defence of its own laws.
What this means in effect is that there is a shadow court trailing women in high profile rape cases: while it is their alleged attacker who is facing prosecution, he is at least protected by the legal principle of presumed innocence. The accuser meanwhile has no such protection, because technically she is only a bystander in a showdown between the state and the accused, and witnesses have few rights in the criminal system (anonymity being one of the few available ones, and that has been recently challenged in the UK).
Women get caught between the social impulse to blame them for sexual transgression and exonerate the men involved (this is much more pronounced for famous, powerful men to whom many have given their allegiance), and the lack of any systemic barriers to doing so. They are placed in the impossible position of having to justify the criminality of the attack on them - somehow, passively and without any access to the apparatus of the legal system, to make a case that they are as important and as capable of being attacked as a barber shop.
 I use the word women advisedly. Men do suffer rape, at rates that though low are still completely unacceptable; but, while there are social barriers to them reporting these attacks, once they do they do not face anything like the systemic obstacles and prejudices that women do. So while rape is a problem of all sexes and genders, cases like Diallo's are a problem specifically for women.