On Tariq Ramadan...

houria bouteldja

As an indigenous woman, I demand the same punishment for perpetrators of rape, whether they are white or black

Yes to tough, exemplary action against rape
No to the racist treatment of Tariq Ramadan

As a woman, I demand that rape is severely punished, no matter who the perpetrator of the crime is, regardless of whether he is white or black.

As an indigenous woman, I demand the same punishment for perpetrators of rape, whether they are white or black.

Indeed, the French justice system is one that tends to patriarchy, and, yes, it tends to be complaisant towards sex crimes, especially when committed by influential men. Women’s voices are constantly demeaned and dismissed, except when the perpetrator is said to be black, Arab, Muslim or from the suburbs.

Here, justice tends to become racist. The tables turn: Men, who are usually protected at the expense of women, lose this immunity. They could even be condemned in advance. This is true whether it is a petty crime, or a serious offense. It may be the reason why men from migrant backgrounds are overrepresented in prison.

Is it possible to believe that we are championing women’s causes by charging one category of men while ensuring the impunity of another? Is it possible to believe that we are serving women’s causes when the perpetrators of such crimes exploit their positions of power, and enjoy their freedom and presumption of innocence with the support of their peers? And yet Tariq Ramadan, who has already been condemned by the media, has to bear a temporary detention, that the likes of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Patrick Balkany, Georges Tron, Gérard Darmanin, Denis Baupin, Thierry Marchal-Beck, Jean-Claude Brisseau, Gilbert Cuzou, and many others, have evaded or are evading?

Of course, no two cases are similar, but the difference in media, political and judicial treatment of those men, as opposed to the treatment inflicted on Tariq Ramadan, speaks for itself. This is particularly true in the case of Gilbert Cuzou [a politician in the Ile-de-France region, which includes the city of Paris]: Even though he was charged with five accounts of rape, he was released on bail while he awaits his trial. Meanwhile, Tariq Ramadan has been left to rot in Fleury-Merogis prison since February 2.

The humilitation and discriminatory treatment of indigenous people has disastrous consequences on our lives as women. It has a tragic impact on the lives of our children and our communities who pay a collective price.

As for the impunity of white men in particular, it has catastrophic consequences on the lives of women in general.

The silence of feminists on this difference in treatment has already had a negative impact on their own cause. Not only does this indifference reinforce patriarchy, it also deepens the already-existing rift between white women and women from post-colonial migrant backgrounds. In truth, closing ranks is what these women need to do in their struggle for freedom.

Hence, the only dignified course of action available to us women is to demand, regardless of the outcome of the proceedings concerning Tariq Ramadan, and without any prejudgment of his culpability or innocence, that he is treated without humiliation--in other words, with dignity, just like the others were treated… Or else, to demand that the others are treated in the same way. This is imperative and non-negotiable.

Houria Bouteldja