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Separate DSK accuser's asylum story from her New York rape story

In Strauss-Kahn case, we must separate questions about the credibility of the accuser's asylum story from her account of assault at the hands of DSK. Women seeking asylum in the US face a system designed to keep them out and to doubt their credibility from the onset.

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The New York rape case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn now hangs in limbo – with the next hearing postponed until early August – after questions about his accuser’s credibility have come to light. The Manhattan district attorney’s office recently announced its concerns about the case, citing among other points, the fact that the African immigrant hotel housekeeper who alleged that Mr. Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted her lied about being gang-raped on her application for asylum in the United States.

The center of the story isn’t just what this woman said about sexual assault in the Sofitel hotel in New York; it’s also about her story of past sexual assault in another country. And that’s a story that sheds unflattering, but needed, light on the United States and its treatment of women applying for asylum within its borders. To give this case a fair reading, prosecutors, pundits, and the public must separate questions about the credibility of her asylum story from her story of events at the hands of Strauss-Kahn in a New York hotel room.

While we many never know what happened in that hotel room, we can surmise a lot about why Strauss-Kahn’s accuser said what she did when she arrived in this country: For many women, a story of rape is their only way in.

For women seeking asylum in the US who come from developing countries, entry into the US requires them to be credible. At the same time, their credibility is always suspect. Immigration officers assume that the story that they are telling is not the truth. As a result, the asylum hearing is often a trial.

Women seeking asylum face doubt from the beginning


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