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Dominique Strauss-Kahn Speaking Engagement Attracts Petition By Cambridge University Students

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DSK
AP

College students in Britain have declared they do not want Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, to speak on their campus.

The Cambridge Union Society's Women's Campaign has collected at least 528 signatures from students at Britain's Cambridge University in a petition to prevent Strauss-Kahn from speaking there on March 9.

The students are upset that Strauss-Kahn, who is being investigated for possible ties to a prostitution ring, would be speaking the day after International Women's Day. Strauss-Kahn stepped down from the IMF in May 2011 amid allegations he sexually assaulted a New York hotel worker. He has also been accused of attempting to assault 32-year-old French writer Tristane Banon of attempting to rape her in 2003, according to the AFP.

"At worst, the invitation betrays an abhorrent disregard for the many survivors of sexual violence amongst the student body," the petition stated.

The Cambridge Union debating society invited Strauss-Kahn to give a speech on the global economy, and said they'd been regularly asking him to come and speak on the topic since 2010.

"The reason he's been invited is because he's a fascinating figure and has exceptional knowledge in this field," the debating society president Katie Lam told AFP. "So I don't think it's inappropriate to have invited him. Speaking at the Union doesn't imply approval or endorsement, or indeed disapproval."

The petition maintains "the political decision to host DSK feeds an existent culture of silence and shame around rape, in which alleged perpetrators are given a platform mostly denied to survivors of sexual violence."

Ruth Graham, women's officer at the student union, said giving Strauss-Kahn an opportunity to speak "trivialises the experiences of women who bravely come forward and report rape" and sexual assault.

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