Here, after all, was one of the most powerful men in the world, a steward of the international economy, a potential future president of one America’s key allies. He was being accused of sexual assault by a black, Muslim immigrant maid, a woman with virtually no status or power. For the police in most countries, at most moments in history, it would not have been a close call: let him fly. Tell her to shut up. If she won’t, find some way of making her shut up.
What happened on May 14 is not just defensible. As an example of equality before the law, it is downright inspiring.
And what happened last week is impressive too. The accuser, it turns out, has serious credibility problems. And how exactly did we learn that? The prosecutors told us. To repeat: the prosecutors told us, even though doing so has likely destroyed their case, and perhaps their careers. There was, once again, another option, an option that in most societies at most moments in time the government would have chosen in a heartbeat: lie. Even in today’s United States, prosecutors regularly withhold exculpatory evidence: it happened in the Duke Lacrosse rape case and in the prosecution of former senator Ted Stevens. That did not happen here. Which is to say, the system worked…
The Strauss-Kahn indictment “changed something in the mentality of French women,” notes French feminist Natacha Henry. “This case has empowered women, even if this one isn’t the Virgin Mary.” Since DSK’s arrest, several French women have come forward to accuse a government minister, Georges Tron, of attempted rape, and he has since resigned. “There’s an awareness and a willingness to speak out that wasn’t there before,” notes Sylvie Kauffmann, the first female editor of Le Monde. Businesswoman Laurence Parisot recently told Le Parisien that the Strauss-Kahn indictment “is going to contribute to liberating speech.”