Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Good news and bad…

For the last few days I have been in Liverpool supporting my sister-in-law through a difficult labour which finally ended with an emergency Caesarian Section procedure. The good news is that in the early hours of the morning a healthy and beautiful 8lb baby boy was born! I am very happy to report that mother and son are doing fine.

The bad news is that I have emerged from that world into a heated controversy around Julian Assange which is conflating issues around freedom of speech with debates about what constitutes violence against women.
Let me be clear, as a politician and as a woman. Rape occurs when a woman has not consented to sex. George Galloway’s comments on what constitutes rape are deeply disappointing and wrong.

There are many political issues entwined in the case of Julian Assange. These issues cannot be used to diminish in any way the seriousness of any allegations against him. Any individual accused of a crime, sexual or otherwise, is innocent until proven guilty. By the same token, any individual who believes themselves to be a victim has a right to have their grievances heard in a fair manner and not have their allegations belittled or dismissed. This is the cornerstone of justice.

This turn of events may well act to undermine Assange's defence against those powerful forces keen to make an example of him for exposing the crimes of Empire. It has certainly taken the debate around violence against women a step backwards.