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The Senate Judiciary Committee failed in its duty — and failed all women in the process

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30.09.2018

Call this a tale of two women.

One of them, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, you know quite well. Her face and life have been all over the American and world media — the result of her accusation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, sexually assaulted her 36 years ago, when she was 15.

The other woman you may be less familiar with. Amal Fathy does not live in the United States. Egypt is her home, a place where 99 per cent of women experience sexual harassment in their lives.

Like Ford, Fathy spoke up to draw attention to the fact that the Egyptian government doesn’t protect women against the scourge of unwanted sexual advances. But she didn’t write her congresswoman. Fathy aired her grievances on the Internet via her Facebook account — the only public square left when you live in a country where the democratically elected leaders are in jail and the place is run by a military junta.

After writing a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker, Ford went to Congress last week to make her allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh was afforded the opportunity to respond to her allegations, which he denied.

The result?

Faced with Ford’s “100 per cent” certainty that the judge had assaulted her in 1982, and Kavanaugh’s “100 per cent” certainty that he had not, his confirmation passed through the committee by a party line vote of 11 to 10, with all 11 white Republican men backing Kavanaugh. Accordingly, the matter was moved to the Senate floor for a full vote that will come before long.

But there was a caveat to the committee’s confirmation — to me, a false one.

Retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake insisted on an FBI investigation into Ford’s complaints before the full Senate voted on Kavanaugh.

Flake was uneasy about the fact that the committee had not held an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations, as it had in the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas case 27 years earlier.

The upshot of that?

With two sworn witnesses telling diametrically different stories, the current committee hadn’t heard from a single witness to either corroborate or disprove the testimony of Ford or Kavanaugh. In making their decision on Kavanaugh, they were flying blind. Or worse, they were relying on party affiliation or a broad streak of misogyny in this hoary institution that no one wants to talk........

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