Julian Assange turned himself in Tuesday — he’s been arrested and is being held without bail in London ahead of a hearing on extradition to Sweden. The head of the “stateless” news-leak organization WikiLeaks is accused of sexual assault —and let’s be clear, he should face the charges. But since when is Interpol [the investigative arm of the International Criminal Court at The Hague] so vigilant about violence against women? If women’s security is suddenly Interpol’s priority — that’s big news!
Tell it to hundreds of women in US jails and immigration detention centers — who charge that they can’t get justice against accused rapists — or women in the US military (two of out three of whom allege they’ve experienced assault.) In Haiti hundreds of unprosecuted cases of rape in refugee camps could use some of Interpol’s attention.
To come back to earth… It seems we only care about women’s bodies when there’s a political point to be proved. Feminist lawyers had to fight for years for the Criminal Court to take rape in Bosnia and Congo seriously. Feminist journalists wrote for years about the treatment of women under the Taliban, but it wasn’t until they needed to sell a war that US politicians cared—and invaded.
Years later, Assange’s organization ever-so-inconveniently leaked thousands of Afghan war logs and diplomatic cables about that war, and women’s bodies are again the pretext for action.
So yes, if Assange is accused of assault, he should face charges. So should football players (professional and college), politicians, film directors, and everyday Joes.
But until some of those others start getting scooped up by Interpol and extradited, let’s not pretend that this is the dawning of a brave new era in sexual assault prosecution, shall we?