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Austrian Promoter Convicted of Sexual Violation Launches Defamation Case Against Victim

An Austrian promoter convicted of sexual violation has launched a defamation suit against the victim.

The defamation hearing, which will take place today Friday, September 22nd, is the latest twist in a story dating back to February 1st, when the initial incident occurred. The promoter, who is a man and can’t be named for legal reasons, was arrested in Vienna the following morning. (The victim, who is a woman, also can’t be named for legal reasons.)

The promoter was taken into pre-trial custody for six weeks before being brought to trial on three counts of rape, coercion and bodily harm. He was ultimately convicted of “violation of sexual integrity” and conditionally released in March with a ten-month suspended sentence. This is a lesser charge than rape because he wasn’t charged with coercion.

Austria’s controversial two-tier model on rape law centres violence, force/coercion or intimidation over a lack of consent on the part of the victim. As a result, the promoter’s rape charge was replaced with a lesser charge, which carries a lesser sentence. The sentence for rape is between two and ten years in prison.

This definition of rape law–which is applied across 19 countries–has led the UN Human Rights Office to make recommendations to member states to reform the two-tier model in accordance with human rights standards and jurisprudence.

“It’s high time Austria fulfils its obligations under international law and abandons the outdated concept of rape, which in practice required physical resistance on the part of the victim,” the victim’s lawyer, Philipp Springer, told Resident Advisor.

According to Springer, the promoter launched his civil defamation suit against the victim on August 1st. He accuses her of “lying” about the incident and of sharing minutes of her police interview, which allegedly contained graphic details of the ordeal, via WhatsApp. In response, Springer launched legal proceedings on behalf of the victim for slander against the promoter.

Last month, the victim’s sister flagged the initial incident with Vienna-based feminist techno collective Hausgemacht after she saw the promoter post a photo of himself at a festival. Hausgemacht represents women and girls’ rights and safety in the party scene. Founder Frederika Ferková used her private Instagram account to launch a MeTooTechno appeal for victims of sexual assault. Around 100 people came forward with allegations against men in the local electronic music scene.

This appeal led the Austrian media to spotlight the prevalent nature of sexual abuse in the local scene through interviews with several victims. “I said I would try to help,” Ferkova told RA. “Victims of sexual assault are being sued and don’t have the capacity to go the media.”

After launching her appeal, Ferkova said “more and more women started coming forward–they included DJs, promoters and women who work behind the bar. They also sent me emails about what happened to them.”

Hausgemacht cofounder Sabrina Geißler, AKA DJ Purrdition, told RA that the problem also lies with “silent bystanders” in the scene. That said, one local promoter and contracted partner of the convicted promoter publicly declared that it will distance itself from anyone involved with acts of sexual violation. (The promoter asked to remain anonymous.)

A study commissioned by the Vienna Club Commission found that 76.7 percent of people had experienced sexual harassment within Vienna’s nightlife scene. The study surveyed 2,233 people over seven weeks in March and April 2023. Race- and gender-based discrimination were also significant issues. Speaking to RA, VCC’s Martina Brunner said that a “checklist” has since been designed to “strengthen social sustainability” of venues and events with anti-discrimination and bystander awareness training.

VCC is also planning to launch a system for reporting incidents of sexual abuse and all other forms of discrimination. Brunner said she’d like to see Austria’s controversial two-tier rape law reformed. “The Commission isn’t itself an expert body to challenge that law, but I would like to see the legal situation reviewed and revised by women,” she said.

Source : Resident Advisor

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