On the Streets of Paris, the Verdict Is Still Out On Dominique Strauss-Kahn
1 year ago
The French attitude toward sexual assault is not as clear cut as one would think
“She is a liar,” yelled Diallo Nassou about the Guinean hotel maid who has accused former International Monetary Fund director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempting to rape her. “In West Africa, all ladies like money. Guinea ladies are very bad. She says this because she wants money from Strauss-Kahn.”
Nassou works for a French airline company and is an immigrant from the West African nation of Mali. She discussed the Strauss-Kahn problem while at dinner with friends at a Guinean restaurant located in Strasbourg-St. Denis area in the center of Paris, France, where The Loop 21 took to the streets to gauge French and African immigrant attitudes towards the Strauss-Kahn debacle.
If she’s lying, how do you explain the bruises, this reporter asked.
“She had the bruises before. She is a liar,” Nassou retorted. The six other women at the table nodded in agreement. Only one woman challenged the categorization of Strauss-Kahn’s accuser as a “liar.”
Haby Touré, a teacher from Mauritania responded, “Why do you say she is a liar and not Strauss-Kahn? Because Strauss-Kahn is popular?”
“She is a liar,” stressed Juliet Soares, a woman of Cape Verdean descent who, like Nassou, works for a French airline company.
With the next court hearing only days away, Parisian opinions are mixed about Strauss-Kahn. The Loop 21 interviewed dozens of people around France -- some native French, some African immigrants, some black and some white - from Paris neighborhoods like Strasbourg-St. Denis and Vincennes. The dominant themes from the responses: judgment from a jury’s perspective, debates about public versus private life, the abuse of power, and how the case affects voting decisions.
“If you want your private life, don’t be a role model,” said Aworele Foll, a French student doing an apprenticeship at an automotive company.
“Cheating, or being a swinger is part of someone’s private life. Sexual assault isn’t,” explained Vanessa Miclo, a French customer service representative.
A prominent figure in France, Strauss-Kahn was once favored to win the country’s presidential elections. Now, according to a recent Opinion Way poll, 65 percent of French do not want to see Strauss-Kahn contend for the presidency.
“The fact that a woman is the victim is the problem for me. He has no right to abuse someone or use the fact that he is someone from the International Monetary Fund to sleep with anyone he wants,” said Laurence Pannetier, a French student. “Before, I thought I would vote for him…but now I don’t like him as a person. I don’t like the way he acts with women.”
Pannetier’s comments draw attention to the accuser’s account of her exchange with Strauss-Kahn during the alleged assault.
Chris Fanuel, a French flight attendant, felt even stronger about Strauss-Kahn. “Everything he represents, I hate. ...People who have power who think they can do whatever they want. I wouldn’t vote for him because of this [sexual assault] case.”