Coming under fire from American (and probably European) feminists – dedicated enemies of free speech – Slate.fr felt it necessary to defend its decision to name rape accuser Nafissatou Diallo, the 32-year-old divorced Muslim woman who claims to have been attacked by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Khan.
I’ve argued against anonymity for both accusers and accused in rape cases, because transparency and justice go hand in hand, and Slate France makes a compelling case for the benefit of the alleged victim. In fact, the more I learn about Ms. Diallo, the worse things look for Mr. Strauss-Khan. Initially, I was pretty skeptical, and of course guilt cannot be established without a trial, but the situation appears grim for Strauss-Khan at the moment. Leaving aside the fact that he fled in a hurry and was snatched off a plane right before takeoff (never looks good in court), more and more examples of alleged boorish behavior on his part have been coming to light.
Our resident French commenter Nico, who would know a lot more about this character than most of us, writes:
…I believe the accusations against DSK are probably sincere and describe what really happened. The man has already used manipulation and physical strength to try to get sex. Although he chickened out before comitting rape, he went far beyond what most men would deem acceptable.
When Tristane Banon accused him of rape attempt on French TV and described a real fight on the ground, DSK trying to take off her shirt, he didn’t even care to sue her for diffamation, even though most french politicians spend a lot of time and money to sue adversaries for trifles. The mother of Tristane, who is a politician too and knows DSK on a personal level told the press that DSK admitted he went too far and regretted his behaviour.
More stories are coming out suggesting that he was abusive with women, even with prostitutes who were paid to please him. So much so that they refused to return with him.
Prior allegations aside, if the press is honest about the victim and she turns out to be unimpeachable, unconnected to Strauss-Khan’s rivals, and a woman who is willing to face her accuser, it won’t be good for DSK. No accusation made in private and behind an impenetrable feminist wall of secrecy can have anywhere near the power of one made in the open, and with full disclosure. A woman who has nothing to hide is a woman who is far easier to believe.
According to Slate, Ms. Diallo came to the US with her husband, a Guinean trader, and daughter in 1998, after which she divorced at some point. Since then she has been raising her daughter, and for the last three years working for the Sofitel hotel chain.
Here’s what a family spokesman has to say about her (feel free to correct me if I bungled the translation — my French is pretty rusty):
«C’est une bonne musulmane. Elle est vraiment très jolie, comme beaucoup de femmes peules, mais dans notre culture, on n’accepte pas ce type d’agressivité. Franchement, Dominique Strauss-Kahn est tombé sur la mauvaise personne! C’est un scandale et c’est vraiment triste, cet accident!»
“She is a good Muslim. She is really quite good-looking, like many Peul women [her ethnic group], but in our culture we don’t accept this kind of aggressive behavior. Frankly, Dominique Strauss-Khan went after the wrong woman! This incident is scandalous and truly sad.”
Her cousin, Mamadou Chérif Diallo, when asked whether she’s been used for political purposes, responded:
«Non, non, non! Les gens doivent comprendre qu’ici, on vit dans le communautarisme et que Nafissatou vit dans sa communauté, les Peuls de Guinée, et qu’elle ne s’intéresse pas à la politique. Elle n’a pas le droit de vote aux États-Unis et ne participe même pas à nos associations politiques guinéennes.»
“No, no no! What people have to understand is that here, we live in a tight community, Nafissatou lives in her community, the Guinean Peuls, and she doesn’t have any interest in politics. She doesn’t have the right to vote in the US, nor does she involve herself in any of our Guinean political associations.”
I’m sure this isn’t the entire story, but from what I’m reading here, DSK is looking more and more like a straight-up asshole. If I didn’t know a thing about Ms. Diallo, I can say with certainty I’d feel a lot more sympathetic toward DSK and skeptical of the accuser. Of course, I make no judgment concerning DSK’s guilt — the point I am making is that anonymity for the accuser does NOT help make a case.
In their defense, Slate editors answer questions about why they chose to name the accuser, writing, among other things, that answering questions about the woman who accused DSK would protect her against rumors, conspiracy theories and character assassination. Furthermore, her surname is evidently very common throughout West Africa, comparable to an American name such as “Jane Smith,” and the editors write that they wouldn’t have used it if it were particularly rare [this last one is kind of a lousy excuse, and looks wishy-washy].
Personally, I think Slate France did exactly the right thing. Justice should happen in the open, and, it seems, the women who are the least ashamed about making a public accusation are generally the ones who are least likely to be lying through their teeth.
Now we’ll see how this story plays out in court. As of today, Dominique Strauss-Khan is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, as it should be. And, Nafissatou Diallo will publicly give evidence as state’s witness without any legal privacy shield. For the sake of honest people everywhere, this is how it should remain, and the caterwauling of feminists to the contrary should go entirely unheeded.