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A friend of mine posted this news article from AOL News on Facebook. It tells that Julian Assange‘s UK based lawyer called what Assange was charged for « sex by surprise » and it is insinuated that this is a Swedish crime.

First of all, let me put this straight: there is no such crime as « sex by surprise » in Sweden. Assange is charged for rape, sexual harassment and duress, and this is, what is called in Swedish legal terms, on « sannolika skäl; » a classification that means that the prosecutor has enough evidence to make her believe it is likely the verdict will be in her favour. There is fairly strong evidence, then, it is not charge pulled out of thin air. « Sex by surprise » or överraskningssex as it would be translated in Swedish is slang for rape. It is a term that is used when speaking about rape, but jokingly, or keeping it light, a word that brings with it positive connotations, which makes the word inappropriate in itself, but it is nevertheless synonymous with rape.

What allegedly happened, AOL News reports, was

The woman and Assange also reportedly had sex. According to the Daily Mail account, Assange did not use a condom at least one time during their sexual activity. The New York Times today quoted accounts given by the women to police and friends as saying Assange « did not comply with her appeals to stop when (the condom) was no longer in use. »

Take a close look at the section I put in italics there. Assange did not comply with the woman’s appeals to stop. It does not matter when these appeals were voiced, it matters that they were. By continuing having sex with the woman when she had voiced her wishes not to have sex with him, he had sex with her without her consent: rape by definition.
Note, that it isn’t, as is also said in the news article, « Sweden’s unusual rape laws, which are considered pro-feminist because of the consideration given issues of consent when it comes to sexual activity — including even the issue of whether a condom was used. » – it has to do with consent, and in this case, it was allegedly lacking, which is what the charges are based on. And no, it does not matter that they were having sex while she changed her mind, a person is allowed to stop a sexual act at any point (have a look at the rape myths below – « Myth: Once a man gets sexually aroused, he can’t just stop – Fact: Men do not physically need to have sex after becoming sexually excited. Moreover, they are still able to control themselves after becoming aroused »).

What really worries me with this whole circus is that it is panning out to be a popularity contest, as with so many other rape cases. There is the much-loved, at least by people not involved in the state, liberator of information against the allegedly rabid Swedish feminist. The article says about one of Assange’s accusers:

She’s a 31-year-old blond academic and member of the Social Democratic Party who’s known for her radical feminist views, once wrote a treatise on how to take revenge against men and was once thrown out of Cuba for subversive activities.

This belongs to rape myths 101 – that a woman cannot be raped because she acts in a certain way, dresses in a certain way or said some things at one point or another. Just because this woman is a feminist who is interested in how to take revenge on men does not mean she cannot be raped or sexually assaulted, whichever one of the accusations she is behind. Following the same logic, it would mean that Assange is more than likely to be a rapist because he has been described as a chauvinist by Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Icelandic MP. Neither of these facts tell anything about whether or not Julian Assange has raped and/or sexually assaulted the women.

This is a matter for the courts. They have the evidence, they will reach a verdict. Do not make this a public trial. Read this instead (from the Roger Williams University webpage):

Myth: Rape is caused by lust or uncontrollable sexual urges and the need for sexual gratification.

Fact: Rape is an act of physical violence and domination that is not motivated by sexual gratification.

Myth: Once a man gets sexually aroused, he can’t just stop.

Fact: Men do not physically need to have sex after becoming sexually excited. Moreover, they are still able to control themselves after becoming aroused.

Myth: Women often lie about rape or falsely accuse someone of rape.

Fact: Statistical studies indicate false reports make up 2% or less of the reported cases of sexual assault. This figure is approximately the same for other types of crimes. Only 1 out of 10 rapes are actually reported. Rapes by someone the victim knows are the least likely to be reported.

Myth: Women provoke sexual assault by their appearance. Sexual attractiveness is a primary reason why a rapist selects a victim.

Fact: Rapists do not select their victims by their appearance. They select victims who are vulnerable and accessible. Victims of sexual assault range in age groups from infants to the elderly. Sexual attractiveness is not an issue.

Myth: Sexual assault is a topic that only concerns women, and men do not have to be concerned about sexual assault.

Fact: According to recent rape crisis center statistics, men, both straight and gay, suffered 10% of the sexual assaults reported in the US last year. (Almost all were raped by other men.) In addition, men have wives, friends, sisters, mothers, and daughters who may someday need assistance in coping with sexual assault. Rape is a concern for everyone.

Myth: If a woman really did not want to be raped, she could fight off her attacker.

Fact: Even if the rapist is not carrying a weapon, the element of surprise, shock, and fear, or the threat of harm can overpower a survivor.

Update:
Here’s a link to more information of what, exactly, it is Assange is being charged for. According to this article, it seems the condom incident is the molestation charge, the rape is based on the allegation that « Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner. » Keep in mind, though, that with so many different versions of everything circulating the web, it is now more important than ever to not listen to rumours.

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