We should be working to make justice more accessible to victims of rape and sexual violence.

27 July 2018

Labour Equality spokesperson Cllr. Deirdre Kingston has called for greater resources to be dedicated to services for victims of rape and sexual violence within the legal process, as the Law Commision reviews a new law on consent.

Commenting today, Cllr. Kingston said:

“If there is a review of the law in Ireland, surely we should be working to make justice more accessible to victims.

“If a woman in Ireland is raped, she has to be prepared for indignities such as having the clothes she was wearing that night to be shown in court or being asked why she had taken a drink. Yet now, the law commission is reviewing a law which seeks to create space for juries to have understanding for the thinking of a rapist.

“This focus on perpetrators, rather than looking into the needs of victims in legal cases so that their dignity can be respected and justice found for them, highlights the need for a shift in focus on this issue.

“The law proposed suggests that if a rapist has an ‘honest’ belief that there was consent, they can be given a lesser conviction. However, whether a rapist has an ’honest’ belief they had consent does not change the fact their victims did not consent.

“Ultimately we are spending more time trying to find space to achieve an understanding of the intention of a rapist, rather than on finding pathways to justice and support structures for victims.

“At this point, given the extremely low rates of prosecution for rape in Ireland, it is time to take a victim-based approach to our laws and legal system. We need to facilitate more survivors of rape seeking, and obtaining justice and crucially, make them feel supported in doing so.

 

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