By Corinna Barnard
Saturday, May 21, 2011
A now-former IMF banker, a former governor and former reality-TV star made it a huge week for sex crimes and scandal. Catholic bishops tried to distance themselves from it all by deflecting blame to the permissive culture of the 1960s.
(WOMENSENEWS)--Sex crimes and notorieties ran amok this week.
One upshot was that a popular French politician and global banker turned into a household nickname.
By Tuesday, the now-former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan--facing allegations of sexual assault against a New York hotel worker--had become the notorious DSK.
The monogram lent a subliminal gangsta' rap aura to the accused, who, according to what I read, joined a number of other high-profile men--including hip-hop mogul Jay-Z--on the client list of the same defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.
The opening days of the case provided an impressive display of action by New York law enforcement on behalf of the alleged victim, a native of Guinea who has been granted U.S. asylum.
But Nation magazine Executive Editor Betsy Reed reminds us that this shouldn't be mistaken for the typical experience of immigrant women.
In "What If DSK's Accuser Had Been Undocumented?" Reed flags a study of 150 immigrant women who work in the U.S. food industry. Researchers for the Southern Poverty Law Center found that 100 percent of the women--every single 150 of them--reported some kind of workplace sexual harassment. For the majority, this involved a sexual assault. Few made complaints, many lacked immigration papers and the fear of deportation was a widespread reason not to pursue legal recourse.
On the other side of the country, in California, the week also featured former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger playing bad-boy-buddy co-star to DSK. He publicly confessed to siring a secret son by a woman who had worked as a member of the household staff for years.
Schwarzenegger's wife Maria Shriver called on the media to respect her privacy, but our columnist Sandra Kobrin--thinking back on how Shriver had helped stifle women who brought groping charges during her husband's gubernatorial campaign-- took her to task for not spotting an abundance of warning signs.
The Catholic Church faces ongoing criticism for similarly shielding their own. A report out this week by a group of bishops examines the high-profile problem of child-molesting priests. It is far from a mea culpa. In part, the bishops pin some of the blame on the permissive culture of the 1960s and 1970s.
For a major religion based so heavily on the confession of sins it was a stunning display of denial. Victims' groups are reported to be furious.
In a way, however, there is good reason for Church authorities to frown on an era that readily challenged authority. It no doubt helped victims find the courage to come out with the stories that got so many frock coats in trouble.
Two women, meanwhile, offer an antidote to the Church's cover-up complacency. This story involves the case of a priest in Canada charged with violating Inuit children from the tiny Nunavut community of Igloolik. Theresa Braine, a New York journalist and one of our correspondents, forwarded it to me under the subject line: "Awesome story on take-no-crap gals."
If you open it up you'll learn how the women--one Canadian and one Belgian--found each other over the Internet and persistently worked to drag the accused out from under the church's protective wing. Now, according to the story, "he sits in an Iqaluit jail charged with 28 offences alleged to have occurred between 1978 and 1982 in Igloolik."
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