Those trusting French justice to run its course in the case of a famous preacher accused of wrongdoing are deluded. In the news this week we have the case of a 29 year-old man cleared of raping an 11 year-old girl in a park, because the court could not prove that the girl did not consent. Being judged innocent by the French judicial system means absolutely nothing. Of the mere ten percent of rape victims that ever file a complaint in France, ninety percent of complaints are dismissed.
While a court case may well expose inappropriate relations from a moral perspective, it is unlikely — if there were any grounds to the complaints in this high profile case — that any charges would be dismissed on similar grounds. The court will not be able to prove that the relationships were not consensual. At best, it may be able to invoke laws surrounding domestic violence. Certainly it will not pass judgment on any issues of morality, however they are viewed by religion.
Stereotypically, French men love to boast that they are a highly sensual people: ‘Love, for the French, is tied up with adultery,’ as Marilyn Yalom says. Though it seems to us stuffy outsiders that the French have confused mysoginy for romance, it is not really surprising that accusations of sexual violence are rarely taken seriously by society, the media or the judicial system. A culture obsessed with undressing women is not one that can simultaneously champion their rights.