Shame on America if it allows Trump to stand for office. It will be a stain on the White House

At last, a court has shown that there are consequences for sexual assault perpetrated by the most powerful, says the human rights defender Bianca Jagger

Wednesday 10 May 2023 15:37 BST
Equal pay and equal rights are no longer being seen as a fight – but as a right
Equal pay and equal rights are no longer being seen as a fight – but as a right (EPA/Getty)

This week is a great moment for women around the world, as Donald Trump was denounced as a sexual abuser by a jury of his peers.

For centuries, women have fought against sexual abuse and inappropriate advances. This was highlighted by the #MeToo movement, depicted so powerfully in cinemas recently in the film She Said, which followed The New York Times’s investigation that exposed Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual abuse against women. It illustrated how the exposure of men’s worst behaviour sparked a non-violent revolution among women.

Yesterday in a Manhattan federal court in the US, we witnessed another such moment.

Trump wants to be the most powerful man in the world. He wants to lead America again. Yet he is an embodiment of the worst moral bankruptcy.

E Jean Carroll, the 79-year-old journalist who gave testimony that Trump attacked her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s, was doubly brave. Not only did she allow her identity to be made public, which made her a global target for trolls and social media fanatics from around the world, but she also came forward to say that a woman does not have to permit a man’s gratification to be the guiding force of his behaviour.

At last, a court has shown that there are consequences for sexual assault perpetrated by the most powerful.

Some may think the battle was won with the jailing of Harvey Weinstein. But the shocking words of Trump’s video testimony ring in my ears, as he talked of how he “didn’t fancy” Caroll so he couldn't have attacked her – and even claimed that she could have “enjoyed it”. His lies seem to cut truth down the middle. What’s more, his insidious remarks unmask him as a liar and imposter like never before.

Let us remind ourselves of what happened: Carroll was in a store, in a changing room, when Trump, then a New York real estate tycoon and still decades away from the presidency, walked in. He thought he had the right to physically grab and demean her, after invading that space. He’s spoken glibly in the past about grabbing women in a seedy and inappropriate manner – we’ve seen him laugh it off as merely “locker room talk”.

Throughout most of my life I have been campaigning for women’s rights and against injustices around the world. I am shocked and appalled at the unspeakable behaviour, at the injustice and abuse of what Trump has done – particularly given his privileged position as the former leader of a great world power. His reputation is irreparably dashed by a catalogue of calamitous decisions.

In my time, I’ve also seen women rise to great prominence through incredible endeavour. Sometimes, they were not on the same political side as me, but they broke glass ceilings and today we have more women in positions of power in corporate life, the media and television than ever before. Women have risen. Equal pay and equal rights are no longer being seen as a fight – but as a right.

What is shocking about the case of Trump and Carroll is that he seems to want to bully her into reversing that: he wants her to acquiesce and accept that she is “only a woman”. He wants her to accept that a man's “truth” is somehow superior. It is shocking and immoral. With this case, Trump has been fully exposed. I salute Carroll for her courage and hope her example leads other women to rise up and own their bravery. Shame on those in America who allow Donald Trump to stand at the next election – it will be a stain on the White House.

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)

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