Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn had ‘brutal’ anal sex at orgy
DSK's car provided a trampoline for my Femen warriors

Imagine the words "voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" addressed ironically with a Ukrainian accent by a bunch of female activists - wearing housekeeper uniforms and armed with buckets, mops and other cleaning tools - to the ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011 in front of his house in Paris.

That was our first meeting with DSK. That time we took a long journey from Kiev to Paris to protest against the dropping of sex assault charges Strauss-Kahn faced after his well publicised encounter with Nafissatou Diallo. A related civil claim was settled out of court and therefore did not proceed.

A few years later, Femen's international team resumed its topless assault against DSK with in connection with the trial in which he and others face charges of aggravated pimping trial. Prepared in our Paris headquarters, the team of French and Spanish topless activists welcomed Strauss-Kahn at the court in the French city of Lille on Tuesday 10 February.

My fellow activists ran on the car that was transporting DSK, shouting "your turn to be f****d" to the man who was a potential candidate for the French presidential elections in 2012.

Climbing on the car, whose license plate ironically ended with the letters SM (sadomasochism), the topless activists screamed slogans in the belief that this whole issue demands the world's attention, not just the alleged activities of DSK. Mr Strauss-Khan denies the allegations and the trial continues in Lille.

Allegedly sexist male political elite

The trial is exciting for the world's media because of DSK's political past and the spectacular crash of his career. But for feminists, particularly in France, this trial is more than just a pleasant opportunity to publicly shame the allegedly sexist male political elite.

The personality of DSK is not that interesting to us but his trial brings a focus for another mission. It is an opportunity to demand the passage of the nearly forgotten bill about the criminalisation of prostitutes' clients, which was passed by France's National Assembly but was unexpectedly rejected by the French Senate a few months later, in July 2014.

At trial DSK will only be found guilty of the charges (which he denies) if it is proved he helped to organise the alleged elite sex orgies knowing that many of the women present were prostitutes as alleged.

With this trial, we return to the question whether clients should be criminalised or not. Whether pimps and clients should have the same legal responsibility or not. And the answer of the majority of the French feminists today is yes. For this reason, a few protests have been held in Paris and Lille, including Femen's attack on DSK and other demonstrations like the gathering in front of the Senate, initiated by a French former prostitute named Rosen.

Our position is clear and direct. We say that prostitution is nothing but the domination of one gender through exploitation, force or lie.

Prostitution is male domination in its purest form

This trial should stimulate discussion about alleged misogyny and violence towards women although of course the trial continues and no allegations have been proved. It should be understood that in general terms violence is not only a small part of the sex industry confined to individual cases. Violence is, we say, the nature of the sex industry.

femen crucifixes vatican
The Lille protest was the latest Femen attack to attract attentionAFP

Prostitution is an aspect of male domination in its pure form. The act of prostitution is not an equal sex act as it puts the woman in a subordinate position, reducing her to an instrument for sexual pleasure for the client, who pays money for the dubious privilege. The act of prostitution by definition joins together two forms of social power: sex and money. In both realms men hold substantial and systematic power over women.

Finally, Europe has to escape from its romantic point of view of prostitution as a choice. Just because a small percentage of women choose to become prostitutes can't be the reason to deny the problem of millions. To criminalise the client, together with the pimp, will not take anybody's sexual freedom away, but will simply destroy the patriarchal culture of sex, where men make orders and women follow them.

A global issue

Also, we need to stop looking at prostitution in a national context because it is a global issue that includes human trafficking. It is more often women from poor countries, whether they are from Asia, Africa or Eastern Europe that are working as prostitutes in Western Europe, and this proves the hypocrisy of the argument about "free choice". Prostitution is a job for women that lack the means of financial survival. These women don't have any choice.

To progress and to stop educating new generations with the idea that women can be bought like a supermarket product, we need to say no to prostitution. Sexual exploitation is not a profession. The purchase of women by men has to be forbidden and punished. Men's domination should not be legalised.

By accepting the existence of prostitution on a legal level society is jumping deeper into patriarchy and losing one of the chances to fight it.