With much of France bristling at America's treatment of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the country's feminists are pushing back. Three women's pressure groups rallied in Paris Sunday publishing a 6,000-signature petition lambasting Strauss-Kahn's reflexive apologists in the aftermath of his rape allegations.
"We do not know what happened in New York Saturday May 14, but we know what has been happening in France in the past week. We are witnessing a sudden rise of sexist and reactionary reflexes, so quick to surface among part of the French elite," the groups said on Le Monde's website.
As The Independent notes, the groups have been reacting to a string of public statements by left-wing politicians appearing dismissive of the concerns of Strauss-Kahn's alleged victim. Jack Lang, a Socialist and former culture and education minister, said Strauss-Kahn deserved immediate bail because "no one was dead." Jean-Francois Kahn, a leftist-nationalist activist, said the accusations were a mere instance of "troussage de domestique" ("stripping or having casual, forced sex with a servant"). And Socialist Euro MP Gilles Savary chalked up Strauss-Kahn's problems to a "cultural" gap between the U.S. and France, referring to America's "rigorous Protestantism."
In a statement obtained by Reuters and other news agencies, the groups "Osez le feminisme" and "La Barbe" wrote that "This kind of language generates an intolerable confusion between sexual freedom and violence toward women. Violent acts, rape, attempted rape and harassment are all the mark of men's desire to dominate women's bodies." They also noted that 75,000 women are raped in France every year and that the way rape is discussed can minimize the severity of the crime. "There is a certain impunity in France when it comes to this kind of uninhibited sexism," the groups said.
Meanwhile, new details have surfaced from Strauss-Kahn's alleged victim. The Daily Beast has more from the West African woman's account to police:
She told supervisors she was startled when Strauss-Kahn emerged naked from a bathroom. She said she apologized to him and turned away from him, but that the IMF chief grabbed her from behind and ... touched her breasts, remarking she was beautiful, the sources said.
The woman alleged Strauss-Kahn slammed the door to the suite and engaged the indoor latch to lock it, trapping her inside. She alleged that he dragged her deeper inside the suite, and when she slipped trying to get away, he forced her head down to perform oral sex acts, the sources said.