SEX, LIES, POLITICS AND THE LAW
Sex, lies, politics and, at times, the intervention of the law seem to be a natural recipe for those who have to taste or eat from the pot of public political life. In recent weeks, the world has been treated to daily reminders of this in that at least 12 women have come forward and publicly accused the US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of groping them. Despite the boasting of Donald Trump in a hot mic video, which was played on public television, that he has behaved in this manner towards women, his response is that the allegations made against him are “totally and absolutely false”. He has also threatened to seek the intervention of the law by suing his accusers. Trump may be the latest political figure to face allegations of sexual impropriety, but history has shown that he is not alone – and he may well not be the last. The US has had a long and colourful history of such allegations against public political figures. It seems like only yesterday that former President Bill Clinton appeared on television and, without a blink of an eye told the world that he did not have any sexual connection with Monica Lewinsky. This was, however, a lie, because under pressure, he later changed his story and admitted that he did have inappropriate sexual contact with Ms Lewinsky. The law intervened when lawyer Kenneth Starr was appointed to probe the allegations.
Before that, Thomas Jefferson, who was president between 1801 and 1809 was accused of fathering many children with his slave, Sally Hemings. Grover Cleveland, during the presidential race of 1884, had to pay child support to an unmarried woman, Maria Crofts Halpin. President John F. Kennedy was linked to numerous extramarital affairs, and to top it off, those who are glued to international television news in recent years would also be familiar with charges of alleged impropriety against former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, and his female escort, ‘Client Nine’, as well as Anthony Weiner, aka ‘Carlos Danger’.
The cocktail of sex, lies, politics and the law is not at all confined to US political history. Indeed, it might still be fresh in the memory of many when IMF chief Dominique StraussKahn, a political operative in France who was expected to become a candidate for the presidency in that country, was removed from a plane in New York in connection with an alleged sexual attack on a maid in Manhattan. In 2005, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa faced a charge of rape; former President of Israel Moshe Katsav was found guilty of rape and sexual assault; and Yitzhak Mordechai, Israeli minister of defence in the 1990s, was convicted of sexually assaulting two women.
Similarly, in recent years, the International Criminal Court added rape to charges against a former vice-president of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, on the ground that he knowingly committed his troops to commit rape crimes. In 2013, Mr Brahma, a politician for the Congress Party in India, was charged for allegedly raping married women.
So, what is it that causes powerful men in public political life to commit or to be accused of committing sexual offences or to act with sordid indiscretion for sexual purposes? It seems as if the answer is still blowing in the wind, but we may all admit that allegations of sexual misconduct by men in political life is a real and troubling global problem. Happily, it is the intervention of the law which ultimately brings full disclosure, truth and justice in many cases.