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Sex, scandal, top politician … nothing new there

After being accused of attempting to rape a New York City hotel maid, the reputation of IMF chief and French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been shattered. He joins a long list of politicians who have met a similar fate.


Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and a prominent member of France's Socialist Party, now belongs to a worldwide club of politicians who have found themselves embroiled in sex scandals. From 1960s Britain to modern-day Malaysia, sordid scandals have forced a long list of high flyers, rightly or wrongly accused of sexual crimes and misdemeanours, to fall from grace. FRANCE 24 takes a look at a few such scandals.

  • Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been linked to a number of scandals. He was accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute (nicknamed "Ruby") on several occasions between February and May of 2010 and of abusing his power to secure her release from police custody after she was arrested on unrelated theft charges. The now-renowned “Rubygate” trial is to resume on May 31 after it was adjourned in early April this year.

  • The former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and current head of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, faces up to 20 years in prison if he is found guilty of sodomising a 25-year-old aide who says he forced him into having sex in June 2008. Malaysia’s high court ruled on May 16 that prosecutors have established a credible sodomy case against him. Ibrahim says the government has concocted the charges against him.
  • Former Israeli president Moshe Katsav lost his job in 2007 because of a sex scandal. After a lengthy trial, he was found guilty of twicerapingone of his colleagues at the tourism ministry, which he headed in the late 1990s, and later of sexually harassing and indecently assaulting an employee at his presidential residence. He was sentenced to seven years in prison in March this year. Katsav has appealed the conviction and sentence.

  • Former Zimbabwean president and Methodist minister Canaan Banana was condemned to one year in prison in May 2000 for 11 counts of sodomy and for forcing male staff members to carry out “unnatural acts” during his time in office in the 1980s. He was released after only eight months. He died in 2003.
  • South African President Jacob Zuma was cleared of raping an HIV-positive woman in 2006 at a trial that was broadcast on live television. The judge ruled that the sex was consensual, but strongly criticised Zuma for having unprotected sex with somebody who he knew was HIV-positive.

  • “Monicagate” is perhaps the world’s most infamous sex scandal. Former US president Bill Clinton was accused in 1997 of having sexual relations with 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky between 1995 and 1997. In the meantime, a former colleague of the president's, Paula Jones, accused him of sexual harassment during his time as governor of Arkansas in the early 1990s. While that case was settled out of court, the Lewinsky revelations led to the impeachment of the president. He was eventually cleared of the charges and of obstructing the course of justice but forced to admit that he had “inappropriate” relations with Lewinsky.
  • In 1963, then-British secretary of war John Profumo was forced to resign over a sex scandal that was linked to concerns over Russian espionage during the Cold War after it was revealed that he was having a relationship with call girl Christine Keeler, who was also having relations with a senior naval attaché at the Soviet embassy in London.

  • The former Democratic governor of New York state, Eliot Spitzer, resigned from his post in 2008 after it was revealed that he had spent thousands of dollars on high-class prostitutes during his time in office. Formerly known as “New York’s Mr. Clean”, Spitzer stood down just a year after being elected following threats of impeachment.


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