Debate: Were George Galloway’s comments on Assange’s rape case unfair?

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks is currently facing prosecution for alledegly raping two women. One woman claims that while he was having sex with her, his condom broke and he continued to have sex. The other woman, who also consented to having sex with him, says that after she’d fallen asleep, she found Assange having sex with her again. Assange denies all allegations of rape.

Following the sacking of the Bradford MP, George Galloway, as a columnist at the Holyrood paper for his remarks about the Assange rape case, Rima Amin and Omar Shahid discuss the Scot’s controversial statements.

Dear Omar,

I disagree with the comments made by George Galloway in regards to the Julian Assange rape case. Though I am usually inclined to agree with Galloway on other issues; his stance on the Iraq War, I find his comments irresponsibly blur the boundaries of what he describes as “bad sexual etiquette” and rape. Undoubtedly, the Assange case is complex; he is susceptible to false accusations in attempts to bring down Wikileaks.

However this does not mean we should make light of the allegations, or take them any less seriously as we would have, had Assange not been the face of the website. Galloway suggests that even if the allegations were true, it does not constitute as rape because the women were “already in the sex game” by having consensual sex with Assange previously. Since when did giving consent once become permanent consent?

By portraying those who believe the women as senseless, it damages the work of anti-rape campaigns. He sarcastically says: “Not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.”

The Assange case aside, Galloway’s comments make it difficult for women who have been raped in similar scenarios to come forward. They may not realise the seriousness of what has happened to them or worse, they may be blamed for the entire incident.

Dear Rima,

The hysteria generated by those who insist we must be politically-correct all the time is probably the real extremism we should be fighting against, not the “extremism” of Julian Assange.

George Galloway is known for refusing to be politically-correct, for speaking out against the establishment and for his stance against the Iraq War. This is important to remember. Galloway doesn’t fudge his words and he doesn’t care what the right-wing media or indeed, in this case, the feminists think of him.

Let me be clear: rape – coerced sex – is both inexcusable and perhaps the most heinous of all crimes. Punishment for rape should be severe. However, can the actions of Assange – admittedly, a man with a questionable moral code – by classified as rape?

There are some things to bear in mind regarding the woman who alleges that she was sleeping while Assange began to have sex with her. There was no violence or threats (as far as we know) when the woman invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner, took her clothes off and had sex with him. There was no violence or threat (as far as we know) when he allegedly began having sex with her again while she was sleeping. It’s undeniably wrong if he did begin having sex with her while she was sleeping…but calling it rape makes the word lose its seriousness.

Dear Omar,

It’s this so called issue of “political correctness” that often distracts us from the most important issue; the incident itself. Perhaps hysteria arises because it is necessary. After all, rape is potentially the most heinous of crimes. It confuses me as to why those who oppose his comments are automatically labelled as feminists. Though feminism is positive, rape is not necessarily about women’s rights, it is about human rights. In fact, if this incident had happened to a man, would the issue of feminism and political correctness still arise?

Rape is indeed coerced sex. But threats or violence are not necessary. Rape is so often wrongly perceived as extremely violent act, by strangers we do not know hiding in dark alleyways, but this is not always the case. A person can be raped by someone they love, know, trust pursuing a sexual act when they’ve been told no. All types of rape are serious and is important that people realise this, so it makes it easier for victims to come forward.

It is irrelevant what the victim said or did prior to the incident. She may agree to sex beforehand, or even be lying naked in the man’s bed, but if she does not consent at the moment time, the man should not pursue having sex with her.

Dear Rima,

You say “all types of rape are serious”, this is true. But each case must be looked at individually and assessed on its own merit. Sex without consent is always wrong but even if, for a minute, we do consider this alleged incident to be an act of rape, to pretend that all rape is equal is disingenuous. Being dragged from an alleyway and violently molested in bed is worse than what Assange is alleged to have done, let’s be honest.

Galloway’s remark that the supposed victim was already in the “sex game” may have seemed sardonic, but he’s spot on. If the woman woke up, told him to stop and he carried on, this, without doubt, is categorically rape. But, considering we don’t know what they agreed and discussed beforehand; that they may have just been having sex two or three hours before the alleged rape incident; and factoring in that she was lying in the bed naked, willingly, this makes the issue unclear, fuzzy and problematic. This is why to say it is “irrelevant what the victim said or did prior to the incident” is nonsense. It is not only relevant but also helps us to understand the situation.

There is no room for jokes about rape, especially all the “surprise sex” ones, they’re vile. This sort of playing down of rape points to the way women are still, shamefully, degraded in our secular-liberal society and sheds light on the way sexual ethics are blurred and obfuscated currently. This is why feminism is important, but not the extreme feminism which often manifests into any excuse to whine at men and society.

But let’s not let this distract us from the real issue: Imperialism and war for hegemonic reasons is the real enemy, not Assange, the guy who’s fighting it.

Follow Rima on Twitter: @Rima246

Follow Omar on Twitter: @Omar_Shahid


Add yours →

  1. Sex is a good tool for the media to cover stuff up. It’s so complicated and they use it to sway the minds of the masses by assuming things from nothing. It’s easy to skew things with allegations when it comes to sex. Make any suggestion about anything wrong during an act of sex and it immediately becomes an issue, it’s never something you can brush aside. It is such an intimate act and everyone has a different view about it is easy to create an argument about minor act.

    If Assange really commited such an atrocity surely there wouldn’t be so much ambiguity around the case? If a woman was to inform of rape surely she would give all the details especially when it’s such a high profile case and there is a high probabilty of putting a rapist away. I can’t understand why people don’t realise that it’s such a set up.

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