Home > Political Opinion > When Interpol Cares about Sexual Assault

When Interpol Cares about Sexual Assault


Posted by lauraflanders at 2:57 pm
December 7, 2010
comments6 COMMENTS

Julian Assange turned himself in Tuesday — he’s been arrested and is being held without bail in London ahead of a hearing on extradition to Sweden. The head of the “stateless” news-leak organization WikiLeaks is accused of sexual assault –and let’s be clear, he should face the charges. But since when is Interpol [the investigative arm of the International Criminal Court at The Hague] so vigilant about violence against women? If women’s security is suddenly Interpol’s priority — that’s big news!

Tell it to hundreds of women in US jails and immigration detention centers — who charge that they can’t get justice against accused rapists — or women in the US military (two of out three of whom allege they’ve experienced assault.) In Haiti hundreds of unprosecuted cases of rape in refugee camps could use some of Interpol’s attention.

To come back to earth… It seems we only care about women’s bodies when there’s a political point to be proved. Feminist lawyers had to fight for years for the Criminal Court to take rape in Bosnia and Congo seriously. Feminist journalists wrote for years about the treatment of women under the Taliban, but it wasn’t until they needed to sell a war that US politicians cared -– and invaded.

Years later, Assange’s organization ever-so-inconveniently leaked thousands of Afghan war logs and diplomatic cables about that war, and women’s bodies are again the pretext for action.

So yes, if Assange is accused of assault, he should face charges. So should football players (professional and college), politicians, film directors, and everyday Joes.

But until some of those others start getting scooped up by Interpol and extradited, let’s not pretend that this is the dawning of a brave new era in sexual assault prosecution, shall we?

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on Facebook.

Laura is a long-time journalist, author and media activist. She wrote the New York Times bestseller Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species and Blue Grit: Making Impossible, Improbable, and Inspirational Political Change in America. Before founding GRITtv, she started up and hosted “Your Call” on public radio KALW in San Francisco and RadioNation on Air America Radio. She is also a regular contributor to The Nation magazine and the Huffington Post. Flanders was founding director of the Women’s Desk at the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and for more than 10 years she produced and hosted CounterSpin, FAIR’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Laura is a regular commentator on MSNBC’s The Ed Show where she has become the go-to source for reliable, progressive analysis of the day’s top stories. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named her one of ten “Media Heroes” of 1994 and she was recently awarded a NY Moves “Power Woman of the Year.”

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