I have read several places now that Sweden, where the embattled Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is under investigation for rape, has some strange laws regarding sexual assault. What is casually being referred to in the media as sexual assault may not be what we generally think of as rape.
As MSNBC is reporting this morning: "He is wanted for questioning after two women accused him of having sex with them without a condom and without their consent.
Assange's lawyers say the accusations stem from a "dispute over consensual but unprotected sex" and say the women only made the claims after finding out about each other's relationships with Assange."
The Christian Science Monitor has posted a story saying that in one instance, Assange refused to stop in the middle of the sex act when his condom broke, and that in the other he had sex with the woman while she was asleep.
As in many US states now, consensual sex in Sweden can become non consensual during the sex act, and if it does, it becomes rape. That is, if the woman had consented, but during sex she says "stop" and the man doesn't stop, he can be charged with rape.
However in Sweden, apparently, consent can be withdrawn after the act is completed. If the woman finds out you used deception, or were in a sexual relationship with someone else at the time, that also can be considered sexual assault.
Although it's not clear yet what happened, one thing is true: Whenever a new batch of documents is released, the case of the rape charges is in the news soon afterward. The initial investigation, where charges were filed, withdrawn, filed again, began just as the last batch of leaked documents was released. Behind the charges was a Swedish woman who had been a CIA source at one time, and who reportedly recruited the other accuser, a younger woman she knew. Some news outlets report that the women decided to file charges when they realized Assange was seeing the other woman, too.
What is also clear is that there was bound to be an attack on Assange by the US and it's allies after he released diplomatic cables that embarrassed them. Don't be surprised by anything you read about him just yet.
Naomi Wolf, a feminist blogger on Huffington Post, has written a piece mocking Assange's arrest titled "Julian Assange Captured By World's Dating Police."
* At last count there were 1,241 "mirror" Wikileaks sites, that is, web sites supporters of WikiLeaks have put up, where you can find the leaked cables if the original WikiLeaks gets shut down.