DSK and everything that’s wrong with rape trials

There’s never any winner in a rape case.

If the accused is convicted the accuser still has to live with having been violated both by her rapist and by the judicial system.  If the accuser is freed most likely his reputation will have been ruined, a not guilty verdict not having the power to erase every doubt in people’s minds.

Never has this been more apposite than in the Dominique Strauss Kahn rape case.

There was that perp walk – that perversion of the process of law whereby an arrested suspect is paraded in chains.  It’s both pure posturing and an unacceptable attempt to influence the course of any subsequent trial by ccreating an image of the accused that implies guilt.

Now there is the wholesale assault on the reputation of his accuser, a woman from Africa who cleans hotel rooms for a living.

She may indeed be an unreliable witness.  She may be accusing DSK falsely.  We shall never know because frankly even if she has been grotesquely wronged exactly the same attempt to demolish her credibility would take place.

It can only serve to revive the demand that both accused and accuser in rape cases should be anonymous.  It would make the adversarial process in court no less intense more any less brutal, but it would limit the wider damage to those concerned from the case.

There is an argument that by making the accused’s identity public it can bring forward more witnesses.  However that argument could also be made with regard to the alleged victim – that if they’re a serial accuser the publicity would also throw light on their behaviour.

In truth the impact of modern DNA techniques ought to do more to identify serial rapists than victims direct evidence possibly could, and making it less traumatic for women to go to the police directly after a rape would help ensure that such evidence is properly gathered.

Above all however it is surely time for society to accept that rape is far too ghastly an event for it to be treated as tabloid entertainment.  There is every opportunity for the details of the accused to be made public, and the best opportunity is after conviction.


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