Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 14:26 PM EDT, 22 August 2012
Over the past few days in the United States, there has been public uproar about Congressman Todd Akin and the comments he made on a television program in which he defended his anti-abortion position by stating that a woman who has been ‘legitimately’ raped can abort any pregnancy should that occur.
Now, in the United Kingdom, George Galloway, an elected MP of the Respect Party for Bradford West, is also at the center of controversy surrounding a recent broadcast. During a broadcast of his program called Good Night with George Galloway, he defended Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, by declaring that a woman who has engaged in consensual sex and is still in the bed with her partner cannot justifiably claim rape.
Assange has been granted asylum by the Ecuadorean government and remains ensconced in their embassy in Knightsbridge to avoid extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape. It is Galloway’s belief that, “The whole thing is a setup.”
Galloway, Assange, and others believe that these sexual assault claims were part of a conspiracy to deliver Assange into the hands of the U.S. authorities who will charge him with espionage which carries a potential sentence of life in prison, or even the death penalty.
The British authorities have vowed to arrest Assange as soon as he steps outside of the embassy which has prompted strong emotions from supporters and denouncers. Supporters like Galloway maintain that Assange is being persecuted by the U.S. for publishing leaked military logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and highly classified diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world.
Galloway’s intemperate remarks in which he defines a man having sex with a woman who has fallen asleep after initial coitus as simply ‘bad etiquette’ and does not constitute rape, are just as egregious as the comments made by Congressman Akin and equally damaging to the advances made in women’s rights in the U.K. And just like Akin, though Galloway subsequently clarified his comment by stating that “No never means yes,” he remains steadfast in his belief that a woman cannot be raped if moments before she engaged in sexual intercourse with the man she is accusing.
In his broadcast Galloway states, “Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them. It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said: ‘Do you mind if I do it again?’ It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.”
Sandy Brindley, national coordinator for Rape Crisis Scotland said Galloway’s comments were “very unhelpful” and supported an enduring but false notion of “real” or “serious” rape. “It can be just as devastating to be raped asleep by someone you know as it is to be raped by a stranger in the street,” she said. (Source: The Guardian)
Assange is accused of meeting two different women – known as woman A and woman B – in Stockholm in August 2010. Both of women, who did not know each other, claim that they went out with Assange and subsequently engaged in sexual intercourse. However, each woman alleges rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion, and in the case of one woman, she claims that she awoke to Assange attempting to have sex with her despite the fact she was asleep.
Galloway continues in his broadcast by stating, “Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100% true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don’t constitute rape at least not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognize it. And somebody has to say this.
Woman A met Julian Assange, invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner, went to bed with him, had consensual sex with him, claims that she woke up to him having sex with her again. This is something which can happen, you know. I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.”
George Galloway, like Akin, is unapologetic and has refused to renounce his statements despite being fired as a columnist on the Scottish political magazine Holyrood. Lawyers and anti-rape campaigners said that morally and legally Galloway was wrong and the law is clear that consent is required every time someone has sex.Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report
- George Galloway defends Julian Assange claim (guardian.co.uk)
- George Galloway must not fall into the trap of rape denial | Julie Bindel (guardian.co.uk)
- George Galloway’s Julian Assange ‘rape’ comments: surely, this is finally the end for Gorgeous George (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- Campaigners hit back at George Galloway’s rape comments over Julian Assange case (scotsman.com)