Anti-rape campaigners blast Galloway’s ‘bad sexual etiquette’ defence of Assange

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By Bob Duncan
 
George Galloway, the Respect Party MP, has been slammed by anti-rape campaigners after claiming that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was accused, not of criminal activity, but merely of “bad sexual etiquette”.
 
Mr Assange has been accused of sexual assault by two women – claims which he denies – and is wanted for questioning by the Swedish authorities.

The Australian has been granted asylum in the Equadorian embassy as he fears the Swedish government plans to deport him to the USA, where he faces a grand jury on allegations of espionage resulting from the publication of confidential US Government files by Wikileaks.

The UK has refused to give him safe passage to Equador and has posted a police guard around the embassy in order to arrest him if he leaves the building.  Last week, the foreign office appeared to threaten to enter the embassy forcibly and arrest Mr Assange, causing considerable outrage in several South American countries.

Mr Galloway, an anti-war campaigner who has often been critical of both the US and UK governments, said Mr Assange’s “only crime was to expose, through Wikileaks, malfeasance by states including our own and the US on a truly gargantuan scale,” claiming the women’s accusations were “totally unproven” and that the Wikileaks founder had been “set up”.

In a podcast released today, Mr Galloway claimed that the allegations against Julian Assange, even if they were “100 per cent true, and even if a camera in the room captured them”, “don’t constitute rape”.  At least “not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it”.

Mr Galloway, who was recently elected MP for Bradford West, stated one of the women had claimed to have invited Mr Assange back to her flat, had consensual sex with him before falling asleep and then “woke up to him having sex with her again – something which can happen, you know”.

On whether or not this would constitute rape, Mr Galloway said that “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.  Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them.

“It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said, ‘do you mind if I do it again?’ It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.

“I don’t believe either of those women, I don’t believe either of these stories.”

He then continued on Twitter, claiming those who thought Assange had a case to answer were “useful idiots” for the “Empire”, that it was “about WIKILEAKS stupid” and that the “‘liberal’ chorus of Pavlovian reaction must delight the Pentagon.”

The charity Rape Crisis said Mr Galloway’s understanding of what legally constituted rape appeared to be “factually incorrect” and that if a woman was asleep when a sexual encounter began, then consent could not “reasonably” be said to have been given.

“Having had consensual sex with a woman once does not give a man licence to then have sex with her again at any time and in any way he pleases and assume consent is given,” said a spokeswoman.

“By the same token, having had consensual sex with someone once does not mean a woman has forever forfeited her right to withdraw or refuse her consent to further sex with that person.

“Sex without consent is rape.  Mr Galloway’s description of such sexual violence as ‘really bad manners’ is offensive and deeply concerning.”

Notwithstanding Mr Galloway’s controversial podcast, there are growing concerns over the allegations levelled against Mr Assange and claims by many supporters that the Swedish authorities have come under pressure to pursue the Wikileaks founder.

Scottish blog Bella Caledonia recently published a fact sheet published by campaign group ‘Occupy London’ that cast doubt over the credibility of the case against the Australian.  According to the publication, the accusations against the Mr Assange, who voluntarily spent five weeks in Sweden as investigators looked into the allegations, were originally thrown out by the Swedish authorities, only to be resurrected by officials with links to US Diplomats.

The document also lists a number of what it claims are contradictions in the evidence supplied by the alleged victims and claims procedures were not adhered to by the Swedish prosecutors.  The group also claim that Mr Assange’s encounters with both women would not constitute crimes in either his native Australia or the UK.

Mr Galloway’s podcast, fast forward to 13mins 50secs.