May 18, 2011
Oakland, Calif. -- A brutal rape and sexual assault was not enough. Now the NY Post has turned its vicious sights on the woman who brought assault charges against IMF leader Dominique Strauss.
Rather than focus on the issue of this young woman's assault charges against a high-powered diplomat, the NY Post chose to break a sensationalist, and unfounded story speculating about the young woman's HIV status. A young, West African working class immigrant and single mother, she surely experiences multiple forms of marginalization in our society and has shown commendable courage in coming forth with her story. Like anyone, she is entitled to justice, and physical and psychological safety for herself and her family during and after the process of justice.
The NY Post's irresponsible coverage exacerbates the power dynamics of racism, sexism, and classism inherent between the woman who has brought charges of assault and Strauss-Kahn, a man in a position of great power. The coverage creates a chilling effect for women who may need to bring assault charges in the future against powerful people, especially for women of color, low income women, and immigrant women.
These irrelevant and potentially false statements serve to intensify existing struggles that young women face daily and could result in violence or discriminatory treatment towards both the young woman in this case and her child. This type of reporting is irresponsible and downright dangerous. It perpetuates an environment where people cannot feel safe coming forward as survivors of violence without having their sexual history, health status, and ultimately their credibility, questioned. What was the Post's real motivation in breaking this story? Would the story have been the same if she were not a young working class West African immigrant?
The U.S. Positive Women's Network (PWN), a national membership body of HIV-positive women and a project of Oakland-based women's HIV organization WORLD, is outraged by the NY Post's vicious attack on the woman who brought assault charges against IMF leader Dominique Strauss "She is a woman of color who may have been raped physically and is now being raped again," says Minister Antoinettea Etienne, an HIV-positive woman, and member of the NYC HIV Planning Council. "The young woman who came forward with rape and assault charges deserves safety and respect from the law enforcement community, media and advocates for her courage in speaking up for her rights."
PWN demands the NY Post publicly apologize for this story, not engage in this type of sensationalist journalism, and engage in coverage that is relevant to the case.