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Defending Assange, Ecuador’s President Kindles a Controversy over Defining Rape

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 24, 2012

The decision to help keep Assange out of Sweden shines light on Latin America’s problematic attitude toward rape
image: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak from the balcony of Ecuador's embassy, where he is taking refuge in London Aug. 19, 2012.
CHRIS HELGREN / REUTERS
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak from the balcony of Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he is taking refuge, on Aug. 19, 2012

This isn’t exactly International Male Sensitivity Week. First we had Missouri Congressman and Dark Ages darling Todd Akin sparking a global firestorm of criticism, and calls from his own Republican Party that he drop his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, by suggesting that “legitimate” female rape victims rarely get pregnant. Akin later apologized and said he meant to say “forcible” rape — but that still betrayed the backwardly narrow definition of rape that Akin and so many other anti–abortion rights conservatives hold.

Now we have Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who last week granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, reminding us just how at home Akin would likely feel in Latin America, even in countries run by leftists like Correa. Talking to reporters on Wednesday in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Correa noted with a disturbingly matter-of-fact air that the sexual assault two women in Sweden accuse Assange of committing against them in 2010 “would not be considered in any case a felony in Latin America.” Read the rest of this entry »

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