Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Middle-Aged Men Musn't Pontificate about Rape

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Middle-Aged Men Musn't Pontificate about Rape

Article excerpt

Byline: Melanie McDonagh

AS if the Assange affair weren't fraught enough, what with it turning into a diplomatic stand-off between Britain and Ecuador, we now have a new player: George Galloway. Mr Galloway, whose reputation as a ladies man is suggested by his sobriquet of Gorgeous George, has weighed in on Julian Assange's side. In a weekly online video address entitled Goodnight with George Galloway, he opined that Mr Assange was the victim of a US imperialist setup.

Then, fatally, he went graphic. Discussing the allegations against Assange in Sweden, where one woman alleges that he had sex with her when she was asleep and another that he had sex without a condom, George opines: "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."

Be that as it may, what's asking for trouble is using the words "bad sexual etiquette" and "rape" in the same sentence. The rape charity Crisis called his comments deeply unhelpful. Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, declared: "It can be just as devastating to be raped asleep by someone you know as it is to be raped by a stranger in the street."

Well, I'm not sure many people would think so. Swedish law makes a distinction between violent rape, which is the kind Galloway probably has in mind, and the rape involving coercion of one kind or another which attracts a lesser sentence. …

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