Today protesters will take to the streets of Irish cities to demand an overhaul in how rape trials are conducted.
The response comes after a case in Cork where a barrister highlighted a 17-year-old’s choice of underwear as a pertinent piece of evidence as to whether the complainant offered her consent.
The 27-year-old man who was accused of rape in the case was found not guilty by the jury at the Central Criminal Court in Cork.
TD Ruth Coppinger held up her underwear in the Dáil as an act of solidarity against the culture of ‘victim-blaming’ that permeates the Irish court system in their conduct of rape trials.
According to RTÉ News, Coppinger said women were getting weary at “routine victim-blaming in Irish courts” and asked the Taoiseach:
Why is nothing yet being done to stop the routine use of rape myths in trials, and how concerned is this Government about the chilling effect this is having on victims coming forward?
An Taoiseach said he could not interfere in the way individual court cases are held but a review is underway on practice and procedure to see if improvements can be found in the way such trials are conducted. Varadkar asked for the house to note that:
Nobody asks to be raped and it is never the victim’s fault…It doesn’t matter what you wear. It doesn’t matter where you went, who you went with or what you took, whether it was drugs or alcohol.
Ms Coppinger asked the Taoiseach to approve a PBP-Solidarity bill on sex education in schools and compulsory training for the judiciary.
Women are sharing pictures online of their underwear under the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent. According to ROSA, Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism, and Austerity, the rallies will be a call to stop judiciary using rape myths to perpetuate rape culture. The protests will take place in the following locations today:
- The Spire, O’Connell Street – 1 pm
- Cork Brown Thomas, Patrick Street – 1pm
- Limerick, Gloria Jean’s Cafe, Thomas Street – 12.30 pm
On Friday, November 16, a rally will take place in Waterford on John Roberts Square from 3.30 – 4.30pm.