Almost everyone seems to know that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman while visiting New York in May. But can you name the accuser?
Her identity was not revealed until Slate.fr published her name on May 17, 2011 in an effort to stop “the conspiracy theory in France about this case and to stop the false accusation against the victim…” Jezebel’s Anna North weighed the consequences of naming the victim in rape cases on July 6, 2011. She concludes that
[T]he story of DSK and the hotel maid has morphed into something bigger and nastier — a chance to confuse veracity with credibility, and to allege that one woman’s shady friends say something profound about our society’s (alleged) willingness to believe rape victims or our unfair treatment of the accused. They don’t. And all those who want to name rape victims so that other cases can even more swiftly sink to DSK-shitshow levels would do well to remember that.
North affirms, with signature Jezebel snark-in-lieu-of-clarity, that the naming of DSK’s accuser made the case into a sideshow featuring a grotesque aberration of justice. And yet, elsewhere Jezebel reports that cases of assault often “confuse veracity and credibility,” unexceptional to the politics of naming and press. What is the real issue at stake with the naming of a victim?
When a victim names him or herself, either to law enforcement officials, a friend or to the press, s/he becomes an agent of justice on her own behalf. And DSK’s accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, is doing just that by speaking out to the press about her case. Diallo explained,
People call me a lot of bad names… that’s why I have to be here and let people know that a lot of things they say about me are not true.
In contrast, her attorney offered,
She represents not just herself but women who have been victims around the world. Diallo also mentioned she was standing up for “every other woman in the world.
No. Not quite. Diallo represents herself, and in doing so sets an example for how other victims might deal with a similar situation. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t that, in fact, exactly what is needed?