Skip navigation

Disinvite Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Talk by Cath Elliott and Douglas Wigdor

You can listen to the talk [56MB MP3, 1h18m] by Cath Elliott, trade union activist and journalist, and Douglas Wigdor, attorney for Nafissatou Diallo in the civil case against Strauss-Kahn, speaking about the political realities of sexual violence.

Petition

The CUSU Women's Campaign and friends call on the Cambridge Union Society to disinvite Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Read the open letter we are sending them if you are interested, and sign the petition in support of this statement. Rape survivors do not get this kind of platform, and it is time that we listened to them.

Please sign the petition below.


Dear Cambridge Union Society Committee,

The Cambridge Union Society's decision to invite Dominique Strauss-Kahn to speak this term displays, when interpreted most charitably, a callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy. At worst, the invitation betrays an abhorrent disregard for the many survivors of sexual violence amongst the student body. The NUS's Hidden Marks report revealed that 14% of women students have survived sexual assault or violence.

We ask that the Union Society revokes its invitation to DSK. We believe that free speech is about more than inviting rich, white, powerful (in this case allegedly rapist) men to define the Union's termcard year after year. Free speech is also about maximising the variety of ideas that are given platforms, and fostering a culture of debate that seriously engages with the society's membership.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has not been acquitted of any of the multiple accusations of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault that have been leveled against him. Rather, we believe he has been able, because of institutional sexism in the legal system, to evade court. In the case of Nafissatou Diallo, he benefitted from a concerted media character assassination of the woman; in the case of Tristane Banon, he escaped only because of a French statute of limitations which prevented the charge of sexual assault being brought.

The Union Society will surely not find it difficult to admit that history is hardly littered with cases of the powerless legally holding the powerful to account for their crimes: this does not entail that the powerful are innocent of crime. The Union Society must also be aware that rape and sexual assault are among the least well understood, treated and - most pertinently - convicted crimes, in either law or public opinion. This is particularly true in Britain, which has the lowest rape conviction rate in Europe, at 6%.

Numerous charges of attempted rape and sexual assault should give the Union Society pause for thought when administering their speaker invitations. Yet conversely, the Union Society appears to have invited DSK because of the combination of his former economic position and alleged criminal notoriety. Does the Union Society see allegations of attempted rape and sexual assault as titillation for its membership?

Cambridge students have frequently questioned the Union Society's approach to women's rights, but little has changed. Why does the Union Society still invite glamour models to speak on feminism? Why are the few debates with women-related subject matters angled so as to sexualise or trivialise? The proportion of women speakers has slightly improved this term, but is still nowhere near parity.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is scheduled to speak the day after International Women's Day, a bitter irony that has not gone unnoticed. The Union Society is rightfully committed to free speech, but its decisions over who is invited to speak necessarily create a political climate in which some voices are privileged over others. The political decision to host DSK feeds an existent culture of silence and shame around rape, in which alleged perpetrators are given a platform mostly denied to survivors of sexual violence.

Finally, in order to demonstrate that it understands that sexual violence is not 'racy' material with which to pull in the crowds, we ask that the Union Society not only disinvite DSK, but instead use their space on International Women's Day to give a platform to a panel of women who can speak about the political realities of sexual violence, facilitated by the CUSU Women's Campaign: this event would do more to challenge 'the presumptions and prejudices of a wide range of ideas' - one of the Union Society's expressed aims - than any other scheduled debate this term.

Yours sincerely,

Only your name will appear on the petition. All other details will be kept confidential.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

The petition is now closed.

Signatories

Petitioners signed: 780

  • Ruth Graham
  • Gerard Tully
  • Amy Gilligan
  • Taz Rasul
  • Faith Taylor
  • Ray Filar
  • GEorgia Mulligan
  • John Moore
  • Sol Gamsu
  • Clementine Beauvais
  • Morwenna Kirke
  • Agathe Dupeyron
  • Charlotte Jeffreys
  • Nathan Mercieca
  • Natalie Smith
  • Kaiya Shang
  • Francesca Docherty
  • Louisa Brown
  • Kathryn Maude
  • Rees Arnott-Davies
  • Scott Whittaker
  • Matthew Clayton
  • Vignesh Ashok
  • Emily McTernan
  • Clare Walker Gore
  • Morgan Wild
  • Miranda Pottinger
  • Katie Dundas
  • Alex Evans
  • Anna Mathew
  • Lorna Finlayson
  • Dom Hinkins
  • Ben Vincent
  • kathrine brannan
  • Laurie Young
  • Elizabeth Hutchin
  • Arsalan Ghani
  • Freya Scoates
  • Isobel Braithwaite
  • Thomas Matthew Sharp
  • Joshua Newton
  • Lillie Dore
  • Catherine Williams
  • Molly Gavriel
  • Emma Gullifer
  • Liz Ing-Simmons
  • Judith Burton
  • Lawrence Dunn
  • Catherine French
  • Silkie Carlo
  • Shenyue Ding
  • Waseem Yaqoob
  • James Thompson
  • Matthew Spriggs
  • Cameron Stocks
  • Imogen Goodman
  • Joey whitfield
  • RB
  • David Grundy
  • Leona Archer
  • Natalie Tapley
  • Simon Gibbons
  • Kayleigh Nauman
  • Kim Graham
  • James Livesey
  • Koshka Duff
  • Rebecca Fogg
  • Joseph Bates
  • Cara Donnelly
  • Olivia Maes
  • R Snow
  • Nikki Daly
  • Hugh Sillitoe
  • Josie Parkinson
  • Claire Benn
  • Daniel Benjamin
  • Tobias Phibbs
  • Jessica Leech
  • Amelia Horgan
  • Thomas Parry-Jones
  • Sarah Jackson
  • M.C. Brooker
  • Chris Fairless
  • Lizzie Robinson
  • Thomas Barnier
  • Anna Delves
  • jessie humphreys
  • Joey Frances
  • Emilia Thornton
  • Beatrice Patrick
  • Miriam Franklin
  • Emi Dunn
  • Andrew Diver
  • Cecily Long
  • Chris Page
  • Harry Wright
  • Bethany Schmidt
  • Isabelle Bowen
  • Amelia Gibson
  • Anika Seemann
  • Swyn Haf
  • Rosamond Brown
  • giles skerry
  • Laura Solomons
  • Lucy McMahon
  • Sara Stillwell
  • Alex Brett
  • Chloe Miller
  • Bela Dimova
  • sarah faull
  • Ben Comeau
  • Alice Rudge
  • Susanna Langsdale
  • Philip McMahon
  • Katharine Jenkins
  • A Ring
  • Katy Castle
  • Cassie Tickell Painter
  • Orlando Lazar-Gillard
  • Laura Wetherly
  • Sarah McAlpine
  • Becky Loughead
  • David Mears
  • Isabel Rodriguez Mora
  • L Demtchenko
  • Rebecca draper
  • Izzy Denny
  • Frances Perraudin
  • Mary Connors
  • Calvin Raffet
  • Megan Barford
  • Lucas Demurger
  • Tessa Evans
  • James Williams
  • Rebecca Emily King
  • Joe Roussos
  • Jane Carnall
  • Dominic Morris
  • Beth Price
  • Zoah Hedges-Stocks
  • Natalie Wilkins
  • maeve doherty
  • Fleur Clarke
  • Adam Caulton
  • Matthew Simpson
  • Jennifer Green
  • Milly Derbyshire
  • Liv Watson
  • Tina Lasisi
  • K Elliott
  • Eirik W Svela
  • Sebastian Rex
  • Liam McNulty
  • Olivia Hanks
  • Matthew Wedge-Roberts
  • Emily Sloan
  • Martha Morey
  • Mike McCahill
  • Evi Williamson
  • A Chen
  • Timothy Khoury
  • Adrian May
  • Genevieve McMahon
  • Helena Laughton
  • Diane Doliveux
  • Cindi Katz
  • rosie hayes
  • Rin Ushiyama
  • Theo Zhang
  • Madhu Jagdeeshan
  • Nina kanter
  • Mary-Rose Shand
  • Isabella Shaw
  • Katherine Haynes
  • Emma Johnston
  • H Taylor
  • Valerie Nunis
  • Bryony Bates
  • Lucas Pinheiro
  • Mabel Giraldo
  • Eleanor Jackson
  • Ben Towse
  • Naiara Bazin
  • M Pepe
  • Hatty Carman
  • Alexander Betts
  • Bernardo Ochoa
  • Anna Bull
  • Sophie Cope
  • Kellye Curtis
  • Clive Newstead
  • Lily Mehrbod
  • Sarah Hickmott
  • Erin Murphy
  • MK
  • richard braude
  • A.L. Curry
  • Rosalind Purcell
  • Riddhi Sonthalia
  • Fiona Wright
  • Marie Léger-St-Jean
  • Natalie Sauer
  • Anna Goulding
  • Åsa Odin Ekman
  • Sam Stone
  • Carol Atack
  • Hazel Pearson
  • Pascale Reinke
  • S. Schleper
  • Charlotte Wu
  • Morgan Ring
  • Catherine Osborne
  • Philip Langsdale
  • T. J. Lalevee
  • Caitlin Doherty
  • Clémence Fourton
  • Irum Fazal
  • Miles Curtis Watson
  • Kathleen Commons
  • Pascale Siegrist
  • Jack Etches
  • John Gallagher
  • Jenny Harris
  • J.A
  • Nicola Chang
  • Jessica Burrows
  • Healah Riazi
  • Nick Lee
  • Molly Fitzpatrick
  • Siobhan Sparkes McNamara
  • Catherine Spencer
  • Anne Mishkind
  • Ali Mussell
  • Laura Elise Neumann
  • Izzy Isgate
  • Lydia Wilson
  • Hannah Boast
  • Emma Cooper
  • Jelena Aleksic
  • Matthew Kingston
  • Mark Linford
  • David Slinn
  • Claire Chivers
  • India Barker
  • Daniel Chard
  • Tom Wood
  • Cassie Ward
  • Catharine Baumann
  • Sam Wakeford
  • Rosie O'Neill
  • Nicola Bailey
  • Dmitriy Myelnikov
  • Saskia Papadakis
  • Pernilla Ekholm
  • Annie Lydford
  • Caitlin Devereux
  • James Stafford
  • Rebecca Oldschool
  • Kat Burnett
  • Isaac Henrion
  • Emma Roberts
  • Megan Marsh
  • Cel West
  • Ali Boyle
  • Julianne Joswiak
  • Isaac Stanley
  • Miranda Johnson
  • Heather Hind
  • Angelica Tatam
  • Mariel Richards
  • Zhao
  • Elizabeth Oldham
  • Amy Booth
  • Anisha Gupta
  • Zoe Asquith
  • Matthew Kirk
  • Jessica Sandelson
  • Jennifer Drew
  • Katharine Hubbard
  • Owen Kennedy
  • Tom Foxall
  • D.W.
  • Peter Hilborne
  • Dominika Gasiorowski
  • Tamsyn Hyatt
  • Laurie Martin
  • Emma Nash
  • Laurence Watson
  • Duncan Evans
  • Colin McSwiggen
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Kimberley Hyatt
  • Zoe Johnson King
  • Lucy
  • Harriet Boulding
  • Rani Selvarajah
  • Geraint Luff
  • Saloni de Souza
  • E. A. Lee-Six
  • Elly Robson
  • H. Resemann
  • Sophie Smith
  • Sean Ferguson
  • Jonathan Gilmour
  • Toby Bryant
  • Tessa Stewart
  • Dina Alexis
  • Laura Marshall
  • Anne Mellar
  • Esther Leighton
  • Rose Green
  • Katrina Forrester
  • Dr Nicky Reeves
  • C. A. Bueker
  • Camilla Cook
  • Hermione Mackay
  • MB
  • Marie
  • Noor A
  • M.Rinckel
  • Hannah Al-Yousuf
  • HERON
  • Nataly Riera
  • Emmanuel Montcharmont
  • Karine Nadaud
  • Nat Raha
  • ceridwen mccarthy
  • Tony Whyte
  • Fuad Musallam
  • Elunyd Bradshaw
  • Ross Higman
  • Imogen Gardam
  • David Simmonett
  • bridget purcell
  • Pierre CAQUELARD
  • Margot Melville
  • Max Kerr Winter
  • Valentina Assenova
  • Tristane Banon
  • Laila Ezz
  • L. W. Roberts
  • Pieri Jean-Marie
  • Nicci Shall
  • Joseph Shiner
  • Larour
  • Josh Coles-Riley
  • test
  • Lys Stevens
  • C Porter
  • lallementa
  • Edward Liddall
  • Yann CHERRUAULT
  • Marie Grégoire
  • Hannah Fair
  • Ellie Sweet
  • Lyndon Webb
  • Catherine Thirion
  • Catherine Gegout
  • Jennifer Blair
  • Laura Hartwell
  • Laurent Hacquard
  • sherry Hartwell
  • Jean-Marie Bartoli
  • B Forster
  • Jennifer Youngs
  • Alex Hall
  • Nora
  • stefan arold
  • solkem Arold
  • Sylvie Tranchant-Rousseau
  • Louise Janssen
  • Stefani Vekinis
  • Charlotte Hartwell
  • C Stanyon
  • Mireille.Bouchon
  • Anaïs Lasvigne
  • Raoul Teeuwen
  • Miriam Keshani
  • Matthew Ralph
  • Finn Downie Dear
  • Alexandre-Guillaume TOLLINCHI, french political leader
  • thibault rachinel
  • Annie Tregouet
  • Carole Le Ber
  • Zuleika Gilby
  • Veronique HERON
  • Robyn Moates
  • Siân Docksey
  • Anisha Padhee
  • Orla Polten
  • Cano
  • Kyna Milnes
  • schoonwater maryline
  • Marie Berré
  • Veronique Gravet
  • Francis Laveaux
  • Rachel Cunliffe
  • ariane manfrino
  • parthenay
  • Anne-Laure Lepan
  • Eleanor Paull
  • Valeria Doyle
  • Annwyn Eades
  • Audrey Fassi-Fihri
  • SAMAIN
  • Maria Tarre
  • Hannah Wray
  • Jason Robinson
  • Savrina Carrizo
  • Vincent Binder
  • Regine Maritz
  • Alice Moore
  • Rosalie Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh
  • Jennifer Tollmann
  • Hervé Guillemain
  • Alexander Higgs
  • Ciara Murray
  • kielmoes
  • Devon Buchanan
  • Dan Lawrence
  • Verity Trynka-Watson
  • Owen Holland
  • Ann Chemin
  • Jonathan Franklin
  • Lucy Viegas
  • Lauren Withall
  • Tessa Frost
  • Angus MacDonald
  • Kieron Kumar
  • Yves Dréan
  • A Ewing
  • Rebecca Odman-Stonehouse
  • Conrad Landin
  • Jennifer Gould
  • ben
  • Marijne Mak
  • Rachel Victoria Maller Young
  • Leehere Lewis
  • Margaret Butler
  • Bettina Beinhoff
  • Helena
  • Kamariyah Mbamba
  • Michael Hou
  • Ruth Mobbs
  • Zoe Holder
  • Tom Pye
  • Kirsten Sheridan
  • Matilda Greig
  • Emily Manolopoulos
  • Emily Monaghan
  • Mary Braithwaite
  • Ian McDowall
  • Lucy Kitching
  • Annick Bourveau
  • Melissa Wood
  • Chris Boyle
  • Laurie Marks
  • Benjamin Quarshie
  • Deborah Scordo-Mackie
  • Katherine Cook
  • K Badlan
  • Jacques Mérillon
  • Emily Knuckey
  • Karen
  • Cécilia Durieu
  • Rivkah Brown
  • Eve Lacey
  • Siu-Lee Ng
  • Sophia Dzwig
  • Emma Finn
  • Alexandra Zeitz
  • amy harrison
  • Sophie Atkinson
  • Megan Lloyd
  • Alice Hancock
  • Tristan
  • Alysia Calderwood
  • mohammad razai
  • Freddie Brown
  • Grace Canning
  • Andrew Griffin
  • Kaiyil Gnanakumaran
  • Maki Yamazaki
  • Hannah Zukswert
  • Sean pierce
  • Jeanneau Valérie
  • Elliot Carter
  • Victoria Watts
  • Andrew Hadfield
  • Helen Mott
  • Jo Wallis
  • sue collard
  • Emma Blythe
  • Little Tyke
  • Tanya Goldhaber
  • Will Oram
  • Richard Erskine
  • susan iverson
  • Danny Dyer
  • Lucy Boyes
  • Stephanie Davin
  • Alex Wetten
  • Rosie Finlinson
  • Donald Futers
  • Amareen Afzal
  • Colin Danskin
  • Sophie Hoare
  • Heather Rankin
  • David McLean
  • Charlotte Rettie
  • Kevin Hartwell
  • Grace Keisner
  • Emma Doubble
  • Lucie Elven
  • Chris Perry
  • Hayley Weir
  • Brianne
  • Alicia Schep
  • Laura Hull
  • John Wickerson
  • Karen Lythgoe
  • Sophie Madley
  • David Trethewey
  • Camila Condilo
  • Ellie Collins
  • Marie-Antoinette Rettori
  • Rowina Westermeier
  • Alex Bell
  • Sophie Dundovic
  • Caitlin Stewart
  • Kate McAllister
  • tatjana monier
  • J Wheeler
  • Daniel Critchlow
  • L Fielding
  • Rachel Newton
  • Ellie Brown
  • Greg Queyranne
  • Kathrin Egger
  • Emma Brownlee
  • A Morton
  • Emma Madden
  • Anna Railton
  • Jane Turner
  • Alice MacKenzie Bamford
  • Caitriona Callan
  • Rachel Wijsmuller
  • Elly Evans
  • Lara Utsi
  • Camilla d'Angelo
  • Claire Whitelock
  • Kirsten Southard
  • Philip Haycock
  • Hannah Price
  • Martha Fawcett
  • Sarra Facey
  • Clare Anderson
  • Alice Watson
  • Lydia Garms
  • Disha Dewan
  • Andrea Maffioli
  • Jenni Sidey
  • Erica Wickerson
  • Dr. Barbara Wittman
  • Jane Hill
  • Lauren Wilson
  • Jeremy Boussier
  • Eleanor Kendrick
  • Ian Birchall
  • Jordan White
  • Giovanni Menegalle
  • Catherine Schmitt
  • Brendan McCormick
  • Samia Aziz
  • Pascal Bugnion
  • Arianne Shahvisi
  • L. Webb
  • Julie Webster
  • Eleanor Cramer
  • Angie Stewart
  • Martin Fourton
  • Daniela Robles
  • Rebecca Phillips
  • Dr Richard Armstrong
  • Kirsty Wayland
  • Teresa Segura-Garcia
  • Elizabeth Forbes
  • Madeleine Reichman
  • A Conklin
  • Paulina Skorupa
  • A. Burcu Babaoglan
  • Abigail Bankay
  • S Broadbent
  • Elisabeth Schmitt
  • Maria Flod
  • Elizabeth MacRae
  • Meera Patel
  • Siobhan Coskeran
  • Alan Russell
  • Dorothy Chen
  • Huw Grange
  • Rebecca
  • Hannah Scally
  • Bernadette Roegner
  • Theo Kindynis
  • rocio perez
  • Marc Sinan Winrow
  • Fiona Hamey
  • Emma Chapman
  • Clement Mouhot
  • Grace Kiew
  • Jake
  • Matthew Phillips
  • Katerina Pascoulis
  • Joanna Katsiolidou
  • C Starla Hargita
  • Sophie Maddocks
  • Olivia Waddell
  • Stephen Brown
  • Andrew Dobson
  • jacqmart beatrice
  • E. van de Paverd
  • emily donegan
  • Hannah Cahill
  • aurelie quinard
  • Céline BEC
  • Marie-Ange Dulion
  • Daniel Schade
  • aretz hélène
  • Lucy Crouch
  • Catherine B
  • Jay Lingham
  • R Baker
  • Roxanne Morison
  • Luke Roberts
  • Isabel Shapiro
  • adam frost
  • Michael Thorne
  • Jo Tacon
  • de Rawensky
  • Sara Bennett
  • Janey Thornton
  • Pellaumail Dorothée
  • Enzo Poirier
  • Charlie Williams
  • Mia Harris
  • Ruth Pearson
  • Tom Crewe
  • Mick Adams
  • Tom Belger
  • Faith Barker
  • Beth Oppenheim
  • Kate Edwards
  • Simon O'Hara
  • Elsie Powell-Smith
  • Ella Mahony
  • Dylan Dartnell-Steinberg
  • Clare Rivers Mohan
  • Amie Ladley
  • Felicity Davies
  • Christy Lowe
  • Sarah Abel
  • Tomas Weber
  • Colin Frost-Herbert
  • Mala Savjani
  • Lucy Farrett
  • Anna Fahy
  • Abigail Williams
  • Karen Patrick
  • TREMBLAY Marion
  • Rachel Randall
  • Ella Hubbard
  • Lucy Jane
  • A Chong
  • Sophie Barnes
  • Nathanael Arnott-Davies
  • Rebecca Hallett
  • Rachel childs
  • Cicely Taube
  • Richard Marchese Robinson
  • Sally Clayton
  • tiziri amara
  • andrew osborne
  • louise gagnon
  • WILL MAEL NYAMAT
  • Sophie Francess
  • Nicole Lefevre
  • Venet from Beauvais France
  • GROUX FREDERIQUE
  • stephane martin
  • Pierre Moessinger
  • Jonathan Ervine
  • Harriet Sykes
  • Holly Richards
  • Helen D. Cloutier
  • Joanne Oliver
  • Ruby Shrimpton
  • Marina Doronkina
  • Alice Harpole
  • Megan Ryburn
  • Charankamal Singh Boparai
  • Georgia Gordon
  • patrick groux
  • Veronica Baruffati
  • Juliette van Agteren
  • Nathalie Barras
  • Lanzellotti Provence
  • Diana Siclovan
  • Tom Tyldesley
  • Giordana Bunting
  • Chris Holdroyd
  • Peter Marstrand
  • Clara Carbunar
  • Oum Zahar
  • Rachel Bower
  • bathilde
  • Anna Reid
  • Wiktor Ostasz
  • mouilleron
  • regine berrivin
  • El Ashfield
  • Helen Gould
  • Sarah Graham
  • Sharron Ward
  • c stone
  • Tara Narula
  • Beau Rhee
  • MAGALI FEUGIER
  • Alejandro Bocanegra
  • Josephine Hall
  • douhairet
  • C S Howlett
  • DSK THE BEST
  • Philippe Parachini
  • Paola Manzoni
  • beth parkin
  • ginette debes
  • sylvie Lesage-Vauchel
  • kielmoes chantal
  • Rabot
  • FEA NICOLE
  • Agnès L'Homme
  • even
  • Philip Streets
  • charbonnel
  • jeande
  • Liberty Timewell
  • Marie Jean Lamberty
  • CHANET
  • Richard Braham
  • Marie-José Le Magourou
  • daret
  • Arnaud C. Aurejac-Davis
  • Laurence Kotecki
  • mao
  • Chauveau Françoise
  • Rometti Françoise
  • Sara Melville
  • Let him speak
  • Greg Sibley
  • Kathleen Reynolds
  • Jean rené Voyard
  • Jalloh Ahmad
  • Helen Cloutier
  • Diallo Thierno Amadou
  • Ghassan Moazzin
  • Guy Rabot
  • carole davis
  • Abdul Hye
  • Marie dg
  • Diane Reay
  • Vaz Philippe
  • Christa Kummer
  • Monica Sloan
  • Ronald Mcdonald
  • Carly Lyn Heath
  • John Wallis
  • nualagh j strugger
  • marion bell
  • Pamela Watters
For more updates on this campaign, and to see the range of international coverage it has received, go to: http://www.womens.cusu.cam.ac.uk/news/