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By- Election & Sexual Predators in Parties: Beginning of End of Impunity?

21.12.2017

The PMSD, the party that is “Leader of the Opposition” at the moment, came only fifth amongst opposition parties in the recent by-election in Belle Rose – Quatre Bornes. Many reasons are cited by commentators and politicians for this disaster. The most cogent so far is that no-one actually knows the electoral clout of a stand-alone PMSD because it has, since 1976, never actually stood alone in an election, as far as we can recollect. But there is one contributing reason people have not mentioned so far for this debacle.


 Violent verbal sexual abuse


During the PMSD campaign, which got off to a reasonable start, its Secretary General, Mamade Khodabaccus came out with his now-notorious, violent, sexist speech against the Speaker, Maya Hanoomanjee, threatening her with rape and sodomy, and thinking himself hilarious. He was kicked out as Secretary General pretty fast by the PMSD (to the credit of this mainstream right-wing party, it must be said), but the damage was already done to the PMSD.


 End of impunity?


This lesson that history has meted out to the PMSD is a sign to all of us to take note of what has been a sudden-seeming great leap forward in the struggle against patriarchy. In LALIT, we say “sudden-seeming” because the struggle has been long, very long. But over the past few years, there were some small bounds ahead manifested in public, and then over the past six months, world-wide, there has been a huge surge against male predators, and violent sexism. And so, patriarchal verbal violence is just no longer permissible. Within the past year, in Mauritius, the mainstream political parties and the Press have gradually begun to denounce predators and those men who use violent sexist language alike, instead of keeping to the past archaic macho traditions of cover-ups, press pardons for alpha males, turning blind eyes, and pretending-nothing-has-happened. Not too long ago, it was just Muvman Liberasyon Fam and Lalit that consistently denounced all these forms of violent patriarchy on principle. They are forms so “usual” that they are just part of daily drudgery for women (and non-alpha-males) to grin and bear, just like domestic violence used to be.


 Rutnah and Bhadain and Tarolah and Bizlall


It was not just M. Khodabaccus who paid a price in 2017 by losing his office in the PMSD.


 MP Ravi Rutnah has been thoroughly ticked off for calling a woman journalist a “bitch” (femel lisyin), and has presented apologies and suggested “proportionality” as a line of defense, not permissible in our view, saying he believed she had referred to him in French as “barking/howling”, implying he was a dog.


 Ex-Minister of Good Governance, Roshi Bhadain has been pulled up by the Press for two things that used to be bread-and-butter sexist insults of the everyday kind: he referred to Tania Diolle, a woman candidate in the by-election standing against him, as being put there to compete in a “beauty contest”, and he referred to the Opposition Leader posing a Parliamentary question “like a maiden”.


 Parliamentary Private Secretary Tarolah had to resign and become a back-bencher for sharing “sexto” messages with a young woman seeking employment. His party should call on him to resign from the National Assembly, in our view, or expell him.


 Jack Bizlall, by contrast, has not been brought to book for his outrageous sexist tirades against women. They exist in writing in an A3 leaflet, duly signed by him.  It is important that people know of his violent verbal sexual abuse because he persists in calling for “left unity” around his own person. He says he is seen “d’incarner un pouvoir alternatif”, no less. He is now being pumped up because of his 11% vote in the by-election. Let’s get some realistic perspective. This was not a surprise. Did journalists not listen to him going on-and-on, as voting day approached, congratulating, thanking and flattering MSM Ministers over the radio? The reason for this flattery? The MSM, the main Government party, did not field its own candidate, therefore Bizlall wooed its electorate. Abject praise and obsequious remerciments in the context of trade union struggles is totally unnecessary. Unless we see the reality that Bizlall was sending signals. Many MSM electors would abstain. But not all. He would have been amongst those to get the votes – after all that signalling. In the past, we have seen his campaign manager, Dev Ramano, pull this same trick in similar circumstances. With equal, if not more, success. In the very same geographical area.


 What is important is that this Jack Bizlall projects himself as the centre-piece of a big “left alliance” around his person. This is dangerous for all on the left. He insults not just LALIT, but his direct adversary, Kugan Parapen, the Rezistans candidate. And when Kugan pulls him up, soberly, on the Habib Mosaheb program, he flies into a rage. Kugan Parapen rightly sees it as a problem to then hear him offering an alliance!


 It is dangerous if we do not recognize Jack Bizlall’s violence. It will, in the long run, weaken and destroy organisations he is in. It may partly explain why all Jack Bizlall’s organisations collapse, one after the other: Fron Militan Travayer, Parti Militan Travayer, Platform pour Un Nouveau Constitution, Mouvement Large, Entente pour Demoratie Parlemanter, Muvman Premye Me (which collapses and revives on command).


Problems around hiding alpha male sexual abuse certainly is a contributing factor to the drastic weakening of other parties world-wide, and even in the collapse of some.


Effect on Parties


Patriarchy has often gone unrecognized by political parties. When attention is drawn to it by its victims, impunity used to be the rule – the party ignores it, even the Press and other media ignore it! It is classified as “private life”, or “men will be men” or provokes fear, even in some cases, terror.


DSK hastens Ruin of Parti Socialiste by his untrammelled sexual predations


Take the case of Dominique Strauss-Khan in the collapsed French Parti Socialiste.


DSK’s history, and hidden-in-full-view notoriety, as sexual predator hastened the destruction that has hit the Party.


To give an idea of his impunity: In 2009, a comedian radio commentator Stéphane Guillon joked about a “DSK Alarm” in the radio’s building because DSK was coming for an interview: women were warned (“tous aux abri”) to keep out of harm’s way, stay clear of dimly lit corridors, all lifts and stairways and so on. What happened? DSK was left unscathed, continued a few more years of abuse with impunity. The radio journalist was fired.


The Parti Socialiste has gone from largest party with always around 300 seats to a 30 seats now, out of the 577. The importance of DSK in this fall is still not fully recognized.


Why? It was so deeply ingrained. When, for example, he violently accosted a young woman journalist whose mother advised against taking the matter further, it turned out, when the mother bravely confessed, that she had suffered the same fate from the same man. They were both Parti Socialiste MPs 25 years earlier. The rot was inside the Party. When the mother had decided, herself, to “not take the matter further”, she was exposing her own daughter as victim of the very same abuser a generation later. That is how ingrained patriarchy is.


But it was not only DSK in the Parti Socialiste’s recent history.


Mitterand’s impunity


Before him, there was Francois Mitterand. He abused women in another way. He had a secret mistress and daughter hidden away, condemned to the half-lives of slaves living in half-lit places. In fact, they lived in a Palace, paid for by French tax-payers. But never mentioned by the Press. He also had a Swedish mistress and son. Also living a life without full rights to public life. All this predatory behavior was shrouded in the hypocricy of the holy principle of “private life”. Just as beating one’s wife was.


How the destruction of the political party takes place is that, once the sexual abuse is exposed, it is impossible for grassroots Socialist Party members to justify to their grassroots adversaries the behavior of either DSK or Mitterand. So, they deny as long as they can, and then, if given proof, they excuse the behavior, thus corrupting themselves in turn. So, the lack of principles in the party weakens both individual members and also the party.


DSK finally lost his impunity


The good news is that DSK finally had to face up to his violent abuse of women:  he was kicked out of the Parti Socialiste, sacked from his job as Head of the IMF, and divorced by his wife. Change in society had already begun. It was a signal of the beginning of the end of impunity for male violence, even in France where it is notoriously tolerated under the mask of libertinism. DSK was charged in Court for rape in the USA, and for running a high class brothel in France. Being found guilty or not, is another matter. Society has declared behavior of his that used to be pardoned as “unpardonable” and “unpardoned”, without a lot of soul-searching. That is the change that is the beginning of victory for women, and most men, against Patriarchy.


Clinton and the Downward Fall of the Democratic Party


President of the United States of America Bill Clinton, then just short of 50 years old, took in a “stagiaire” in 1995. She was 22 years old. He abused her sexually. The power differential was grotesquely weighted against the young woman, Monica Lewinsky. For months Clinton lied, claiming “I did not have sex with that woman” (sic). Then, when there was DNA evidence of his sperm on her dress, he came out with a new meaning of “having sex” which excluded fellatio.


For the record the Muvman Liberasyon Fam in Mauritius called on women’s organizations in the USA to get Clinton to resign. First, they replied there was no proof, and if ever there was, they would. When there was proof, they opposed calls for his resignation, even opposed his impeachment – on the feeble grounds that he had appointed women to positions of power, or that the Republicans were running a vendetta. This is the tipping-point where part of the women’s movement sells right out:  accepting bribes to move up the patriarchal hierarchies, even as society advances via the disgrace of public impeachment of Bill Clinton.


And this is where not having a principled stand harms a party. How do Democratic Party members, at the grass-roots level manage to justify Bill Clinton’s abuse of a trainee woman, half his age? It is just not possible, without the grassroots activists, in turn, making themselves untrustworthy. They are prepared for political expediency to expose more young women to this treatment.


Now, when Clinton’s wife Hilary stands for President years later against the sexual predator Donald Trump, what exactly is her high moral ground against this out-and-out predator, accused by about 12 credible witnesses? How can democrats and even sections of the women’s movement oppose Trump now on principled grounds, when they did not call for Clinton to step down then? The answer is they can’t. Not with credibility, anyway. And Trump wins. He won. He is now President of the USA. To show how abject all these Democrats and feminists were, all that would have happened, at the time had Clinton resigned, was Al Gore would have stepped in as President. And then probably George W. Bush would have lost the next election to Al Gore. So, the Democratic Party, instead of being strengthened by this abject lack of principled stands, was weakened by allowing Clinton the impunity granted in feudal society to alpha males to abuse young women.


Before Clinton, JFK


John Kennedy, years before, another Democratic President abused “scores of women” – to quote the phrase used in an article in The Independent (25 May 1994). He was “pardoned” even when this was a security risk. “One of Kennedy's girlfriends, Judith Exner, was used to pass classified CIA plans for the assassination of Fidel Castro to Chicago mafia boss Sam Giancana,” The Independent says, “while another [was] promised that cocaine was readily available …” The key to his impunity for continual abuse of women, including women journalists, was the Press. He was friends with journalists. Like DSK. And so his abuse of women was considered “la vie privé”. Like for Mitterand’s case. Even Clinton’s abuse 30 years later could almost be “gotten away with”. But it leaves debilitating weakness for the complicit political party.


The election of a Donald Trump is partly, thus, down to the inability of the Democrats or even for many feminists to take principled stands earlier. The Democratic Party has gone into a serious decline. The man who nearly won the Democratic Primary against Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, was not even a member.


Women’s Rebellion post Weinstein


The massive rebellion of women in the #MeToo movement, started by Tarana Burke in 2007 and that has gone viral in 2017 with the exposure of the Weinstein abuse of over 80 women at his Miramax and the Disney World Studios in Hollywood. With this massive mobilization, Weinstein has lost his job, been kicked out of various important institutions, has left the USA, has promised to follow treatment, and has been kicked out by his wife to boot. His impunity came to a crushing end.


In Media, Congress, Hollywood


In the past year, literally dozens of men – in politics, the media –  two at Fox News – in the US Congress and Senate, in State Legislatures – have been taken to task, have had to resign, have been disgraced.


 In UK, Australia


In the UK, the Minister of Defense has had to resign. Today the Vice Prime Minister had to resign. The BBC’s Jimmy Saville had his awards taken away after his death, so thoroughly disgraced was he.


The Australian Royal Commission of Enquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has in December 2017 given its Report, estimating that sexual abuse has been covered up institutionally for years, and estimating that 60,000 people will need to receive compensation from the institutions concerned. The Catholic church is the most deeply exposed. The Report estimates that one in ten of its Priests was concerned by allegations of abusing children; a previous report in the USA estimated one in 13 Priests in the USA. And that is just at the pedophilia level. Sexual abuse of other people in positions of less power would probably more than double the estimated figure.


So, the scale of the problem is huge.


And in politics, as if following an internal logic, the covered-up problem destroys the organization concerned, if the man is not exposed as a predator and suspended immediately.


Two Far Left Parties in UK Dessimated by Sexual Abuse by Male Leaders


Look at two left wing parties in the UK utterly destroyed.


The Scottish Socialist Party had 6 MPs. And then Tommy Sheridan was involved in a sex-scandal, which brought the party to total ruin by 2004 – partly because of all Tommy Sheridan's lies and subterfuge. Before him, there was the terrible case of Gerry Healy of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, previously a feisty workerist party called the SLL, an anti-Stalinist League. When he was finally expelled after the party had turned a blind eye to 20 years of his sexual abuse of some 26 women members and staff, the party just imploded into fragments from 1985 onwards.


So, organizations need to be warned:  from a huge mass left party like the Parti Socialiste of France with its millions of members to the small left party the WRP in the UK, all get severely weakened if not annihilated by tolerating sex abuse and sexual violence by alpha males in the party.


So, the stakes are high.


What is special about the Weinstein exposure and the end to his impunity?


What is important about the women clubbing together to denounce Weinstein is that there are a number of new factors involved, that give hope that this time around there are some gains that will not be easy to reverse:


a) Women are no longer criticized for not exposing their predator earlier. To do so is now considered what it is: blaming the victim once again. From before Weinstein, women are no longer blamed for their aggressor’s behavior by the man pretending he was aggressed by the woman: her clothing tempted him, it was her that wanted promotion, she was critical of him. Whatever. It is no longer acceptable.


b) Weinstein's web of male protectors who justified his behavior, and warded off exposure, has all, itself, been exposed. Men actors have had to scramble to claim they never knew anything about Weinstein’s dark side: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, George Clooney, are all denying furiously that they “knew”. Woman actors have also had to deny any knowledge of his sexual abuse of other women. So this is a total change in the balance of forces between perpetrators and victims.


c) Weinstein's web of professional defense mechanisms, and its degree of sophistication has also been exposed. (See the two New Yorker articles by Ronan Farrow.) Weinstein hired lawyers, and even hired a private detective firm called Black Cube that was founded by a former Director of Mossad (i.e. the notorious secret service of Israel). This firm employed ex-Mossad women agents to infiltrate amongst women who had been abused by Weinstein, and to infiltrate amongst women journalists on to the Weinstein sexual abuse story. The New York Times sacked its firm of lawyers (David Boies) for its involvement in this scheme of Weinstein’s to block “negative articles” in their newspaper. Who does this covering up here in Mauritius? And how? 


And for the first time, we have been able to hear about the terrible non-disclosure contracts that are reminiscent of slavery, leaving people in other forms of half-lit lives. Women have been forced to sign these contracts because there is no other redress. Women who sign them are not, according to the contracts, allowed a copy of the contract. It would be a smoking gun one witness, Weinstein’s Secretary in London at Miramax, Zelda Perkins, said on the BBC on 20 December, 2017. She managed to get included in her non-disclosure contract that Weinstein would have to undergo therapy, that Miramax would have to institute a sexual harrassment procedure, and so on.


d) It is not just women who suffer these sexual predator's rages, when the man is thwarted. Men also suffered Weinstein’s rage, it has become clear. Indeed alpha males dominate all women and, yes, most men. Actor Robert Lindsay says he was blacklisted and years later actually removed, two days after having been casted for Shakespeare in Love because he had critcized Weinstein’s way of working. It made Weinstein fly into a rage.


Conclusion


We know that it takes a great deal of persistence to expose predatory males. Dozens of women have worked on two Continents, on their own and in small groups, doing their level best, for example, to expose the predatory nature of the Weinstein. But, going at it has finally won. The truth is finally "out there".


In the fine Danish film, The Celebration (Festen) by Thomas Vinterberg, the son who has been abused by his father and whose sister suffered the same abuse and committed suicide just before the dinner party that makes up the film, denounces his father in a formal speech. We are shown, in the film, how resistant people are to accepting the truth about one of these patriarchs. Even if you announce it in a speech at a party, the people present just go on eating and drinking the next course. They do not want to know. They close their ears. They are afraid. Everyone colludes with the patriarch. The associates, the friends, the police, the freemasonry, his wife. It is, in the end, the lower classes (servers, cooks and housekeepers) who give the son the endurance to once again stand up, an umpteenth time, and announce what he and his sister suffered. He finally gets everyone to listen, and to decide how to act, so as to do something about it. 


So, we are in times when things are indeed a-changing. Roy Moore, the Republican Candidate for the Senate in Alabama, despite support from President Trump and from his ideologue Steve Bannon, lost to a Democrat (unimaginable in Alabama). This was for the simple reason that he was exposed by a series of credible woman witnesses as a predator on young girls. However long ago. However much he tried to deny it.


LALIT