A Manhattan judge recently dismissed the case against former director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Khan, due to the District Attorney’s decision to drop the charges of sexual assault against him. The prosecution essentially stated that Nafissatou Diallo’s inconsistencies in her recollection of events damaged her credibility to the point where her account could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, folks, the prosecution decided that it, and not a jury, would decide the fate of this case. Not to be outdone, the media certainly did its share to discredit Diallo, drudging up federal forms she filled out in the past and even introducing the option of deportation as a result of perjury on these documents.
In a classic case of the justice system treating the victim of sexual violence as a criminal, we are yet again faced with the harsh reality that system’s glaring, inherent flaws. Now I am not presuming that is DSK guilty, not at all. I am saying, however, that the structure of our justice system was leaning heavily toward his innocence before he ever stepped foot inside of that hotel. I’m saying that “the law” is not colorblind. In fact, it is just as sensitive to race, to gender, to class, as those who make it, enforce it, and interpret it, and until we part with the myth that there is such a thing as “equal protection under the law,” this will always be a problem. Diallo, then, was not failed by the justice system, she is collateral damage for the sexism, racism, classism, and religious discrimination that it is steeped in. If the outrage and sense of betrayal this decision produced can be used as a catalyst for reform there, then it is not in vain. But if we have only gathered to cry out for Strauss-Khan’s head, then we will be back, and soon.
Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a college student who interned at Hollaback! this past summer. I am, of course, elated to be a part of the blogging team and hope some of you can hear echoes of your own voices in my writing. I’m new at this so any comments or suggestions would be more than welcome!