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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Procès Carlton, une plaidoirie pour l’abolition

by Marie Barbier

The Carlton Case, a plea for abolition

Translated Sunday 15 March 2015, by Adrian Jordan

Every day for two weeks, the civil parties bear witness to the abject reality of prostitution. Faced with them, the defendants seemed incapable of anything but contempt or indifference. The debates shatter the prejudices of the world against prostitution and underline the urgency of an abolitionist law.

Lille (Nord), special correspondent. It is without doubt worse than predicted. Associations for the fight against procurement attended the Carlton trial to ensure it would recount the sordid reality of prostitution, its trivialisation in the world of business and high society, and to expose the indifference of the clients. From the first day of the hearing, 2 February, not a day has passed without glacial silence descending upon the large courtroom in the basement of the court in Lille. The public address system resonates around the walls of wood and concrete as the ex-prostitutes recount the horror. And the public, every day more numerous alongside the hundreds of accredited journalists, listening, stunned by that reality, these unbearable words, these scenes which remain forever engraved in the minds of those who hear them.

Must everything be recounted? The question is more pressing each day. And the debates are sometimes gritty, because some media delight in peddling “whoring”, as it was denounced by the weekly publication Politis? But if the four plaintiffs who testify in the trial, these ex-prostitutes, terrified at the idea that their identities might be revealed, have the courage to come to the bar, that reality should also be heard. “To say nothing is to allow lies” said one of them succinctly on Tuesday.

The most spectacular is Jade. She has a clear, loud voice, which sometimes breaks when evoking her memories as she explains, with remarkable intelligence, the events of her life. On the second day of the hearing, Jade used a phrase which will certainly rest emblematic of the trial. The presiding judge asks her how she started, she replies: “One evening, I opened my fridge, it was empty, well nearly. I said to myself that I must do it... I tapped in the number from a small ad seven or eight times. I was scared to death. I had a meeting with a driver, we had to stop on the autoroute, I was really sick, I was scared..” All took the plunge for financial reasons, they spoke of young children, absent fathers, sexual propositions. There were also those things of which they did not speak: childhood trauma, sexual abuse for at least two of them.

"Every time that I see his photo (DSK), I suffer that internal impalement which tears me apart", recounts Jade. With words becoming more and more crude, Jade retells of physical submission and domination by clients. “Did you speak with Dominique Strauss-Kahn?” presiding judge Bernard Lemaire asked her. “I could not, I had it in my mouth”, she replied, prosaically. Prostitutes do not talk. “One is paid to complete a sexual act.”, continued Jade. Even if that turns into rape. Consider that scene at the hotel Amigo in Brussels, where Jade suffered anal rape by the ex-director of the IMF? “When I turned my back, I was penetrated, to which I would have said no to if I had had the time. Every time that I see his photo, I suffer that internal impalement which tears me apart.” That is the reality of prostitution. Despite DSK who had not “realised” as he said with disinterest, just how much he had “shocked” Jade. Clearly, a woman’s pleasure is not a priority of the “libertine”.

A linguist would be regaled at the Carlton trial. The words employed by each side of the bar say much about the divide which separates plaintiff and defence. On one side, the harsh words of the ex-prostitutes who speak of “slaughter” and “butchery”; on the other, euphemisms. The accused, in dark suits, speak of “fine parties”, “orgies”, “libertinism”, “pleasure”, “celebration”, “sex games”. In the SMS messages exchanged by Fabrice Paszkowski, organiser of soirées and recruiter of the prostitutes, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, read to the court yesterday morning, the two men describe the women in all sorts of ways: “stuff”, “gift”, “I’ve got some really nice new things for my trip. I leave for Courchevel on Wednesday to test them”, written by Fabrice Paszkowski, for example. The prostitutes were objectified in the real sense, dehumanised. “In an SMS, one easily becomes lax”, defends DSK. “It is not meant to be read.” But this says a lot about their concept of women – whether they know or not that they are prostitutes.

"Why do you say massages and not fellatio ?"

Among these powerful men who appear today for procurement, one does not say the words. Too vulgar, no doubt. At the bar, David Roquet talks of “massages” which he had received, making broad gestures with his arms.
“Massages, that is to say?” deputy prosecutor, Aline Clérot, asked him.
“Ah well, massages”, he replied agitated, continuing the gestures. “Fellatio, what.”
– “Why do you say massage and not fellatio?”
– “Ah no, me, I never say fellatio, I say massage, people understand because I seem happy.”
Rapaciously, the representative for the prosecution again questions Fabrice Paszkowski who speaks of his “girlfriends”: “They were prostitutes sir”. From the start of the process, the organiser of these soirées repeated that he did not understand what he had done: “I never had the feeling of committing immoral acts.” “It was an ordinary event”, sighs David Roquet.

"A woman’s vagina is not made to be penetrated ten times in a row”, said Bernard Lemettre, regional delegate in Nord for the Mouvement du nid.

And suddenly, in the middle of that mire, an old gentleman rises and addresses the bar. With his crown of white hair and his sombre voice, he resembles a monk. In fact, he is a “guardian angel” of the plaintiffs, whom he has supported and accompanied for years. Bernard Lemettre, regional delegate in Nord for the Mouvement du Nid, a grassroots organisation which comes to the aid of prostitutes and one of the civil parties in the Carlton trial. Time seemed to be suspended with his words, not heard before during the ten days. The old man spoke of “tarts”, “brothels”, “rape”. He said simply: “A woman’s vagina is not made to be penetrated ten times in a row”

He has accompanied Jade for three years. “Leaving prostitution, it’s like leaving a tomb. Those who remain prostitutes say that they are happy, they cannot say anything else. This discourse is sadly exploited by the media. Then, when you work in the field, you see the violence. One must accept living in a body that has been penetrated. It is a lot of hard work.”

With a calm voice and simple words, Bernard Lemettre makes a plea for abolition. “Our society should one day rid itself of prostitution. It is a dream which I hope one day will be reality. In France, the law has passed to the Senate, but it will not be immediate. I would like that law to serve the young boys of today, so they grow up in a country where being a client is no longer the norm.” The room is transfixed. Mr Henri LeClerc, eighty years old, stands. “Sir, I would like to thank you for that moment of humanity”, he said, visibly moved. Ex-president of the League des droits de l’homme (League of Human Rights), he is now the lawyer for Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The Carlton trial is most decidedly an uncommon procurement trial.

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