Today, another one of those anti-rape charge news articles were posted by Daily Mail. (I wrote about the AOL News article yesterday.) This one is not much better than the last one, and some of the bits made me close my eyes in disgust.
Once again, a lot of the emphasis is put on the fact that at least one of the women is a self-proclaimed feminist. In this article it is described as follows
An attractive blonde, Sarah was already a well-known ‘radical feminist’. In her 30s, she had travelled the world following various fashionable causes.She is this time not only a radical feminist, but a militant one, taking this description of aggression and rabidness to a whole different level than when she was simply described as 'radical.' It is also implying some kind of physical method of resistance, I suppose against the patriarchy, or men in general. I'm reiterating what I said yesterday: just because this woman is a feminist, radical, militant or whatever type doesn't mean that she cannot be raped or sexually assaulted in any other way. In fact, having manoeuvred the legal system in cases of sexual harassment before means that she is probably more knowledgeable about what rights she has and doesn't have. Likewise, it does not tell anything about the case that Assange has said that he will fight the extradition to Sweden.
While a research assistant at a local university she had not only been the protegee of a militant feminist academic, but held the post of ‘campus sexual equity officer’. Fighting male discrimination in all forms, including sexual harassment, was her forte.
Also, about some of the rumours about the power relations in rape cases. The legislation exists. But as far as I have gathered from reading about it, both in media and various discussions, it was passed because of different relations than the ones involved in this case. The legislation is, the argument goes, there for the protection of people that are essentially in a dependency position, for instance a boss and his/her employee. If the boss at one point indicates or expressly says to his/her employee that sex is needed for advancement, this would be counted as rape. The same goes for a situation with, say a university Professor and his/her student with regards to grades. If the person that clearly has more power over the other forces the other person through verbal threats, explicit or implicit, that if the dependent person does not have sex with him/her, they will not receive the promotion/grades promised. Note that this is not simply sleeping one's way up to the top, there is an element of coercion in this case. I don't know what allegation the women accusing Assange made in regards to power relations or anything similar, but I would think that this particular piece of legislation would not be applicable in this case, unless there is information that we do not know about that points to something like this. If this law can be thrown around on little to no basis at all, then yes, I agree with its critics, it needs to be seriously revised, but I would like to have a little more faith in the judicial system than that.
This whole business seems to me have turned into an affair of Wikileaks vs. the women. And I do not mean Wikileaks as in the organisation itself has turned against the women; I mean Wikileaks in the sense that people seem to have made Julian Assange synonymous with Wikileaks. Wikileaks is an organisation, not a person, and people would do very well to keep this in mind. There is no doubt that Wikileaks have done people good through releasing information; people have the right to know. However, just because Wikileaks, the organisation has done something good, does not mean Julian Assange the person cannot do something bad. This argument is applicable in the reverse as well for those who see this information leak as something negative. Just because Wikileaks the organisation did something you consider horrible, does not mean that Julian Assange the person will inevitably rape women.
Lastly, I want to point out that just because Sweden has a legal system that is equal, that takes into consideration women's needs in such cases as rape, where the conviction rates are appallingly low, does not mean it hates men or that it inevitably discriminates men. The statistics speak to the reverse, it is very hard to be sentenced for a rape crime. Besides, Sweden is not exactly known for its fierce punishments and long prison sentences. I would believe many people regard the Swedish legal system as 'soft' because of its focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
The Swedish state is great in many senses, it has been at the top of the list for democratic countries for a while, and is according to the previously linked index the most democratic country. This does not mean it is flawless, but it does mean that we do have a judicial system that is reliable. It does also point to the fact that there is no huge feminist conspiracy of this seemingly man-hating country in addition to the much-speculated government conspiracies. (By the by, I would like to set something straight here - feminism doesn't mean being against men; it means the struggle for equality between men and women and although there are man-hating people identifying as feminists, this is not the norm.)
Sweden is a country that respects women's rights, some would even argue perhaps not as much as it should, and I, as a native Swede, resent that this should be painted in a bad light. There is no anti-male bias, or an exclusive pro-female bias, but there is a will to reach equality between the sexes. This equality is completely opposite to the view that all men are rapists, so there is no logical basis that anyone should judge Sweden as a country who is anti-male, which is what all this talk about Assange "running afoul" of pro-feminist laws seems to imply (from the AOL News article cited in yesterday's post).
Also, keep in mind, Sweden is not charging Assange for any involvement he has with Wikileaks; they are charging him with the alleged rape, sexual harassment and duress against two women. This is not a trial of Wikileaks, this is a trial of a man who has been accused of sexual offences.
For any specific questions regarding Swedish rape law, a Swedish law student under the pseudonym Mortality has kindly offered to answer questions. If you are genuinely interested with the nuances and grey areas of Swedish rape law, contact this person with your questions. If you are just out to criticise Swedish rape law, I suggest you do not clutter this person's mail box.