Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A quick note on my post about Assange

As opposed to repeating this ad nauseum in the comments section, I thought I would clear up this here and now.

Some commenters have pointed out that the defence quotes mentioned in my Assange myths post were the defence outlining the accusations against Assange.

This completely misses the point of what I was writing.

The issue is clear. Assange's supporters are reading the accusations made against him, and arguing that what he allegedly did is legal under English law. That it's 'sex by surprise' and not really rape. However, the accusations made against him are clearly and definitely rape and sexual assault under UK law.

My issue with this, and the issue we should all have with this, is that by repeatedly denying that the alleged offence was not rape, they're silencing and invalidating the experiences of thousands, millions of women across the world. This is not acceptable. What's more, it is hugely revealing about what people are prepared to believe about consent.

It is incredibly troubling that people across the political spectrum are happy to argue that rape isn't rape. The impact this has on how we talk about and define consent is huge.

I don't know if Assange is guilty. Neither do you. What I do know is that he is accused of rape. Not sex by surprise, not 'having sex without a condom', it's rape. And we need to respect that this is how rape is defined in English law, and respect the experiences and voices of survivors.

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