No matter what your thoughts are on any individual rape or sexual assault case, there is one thing that should be clear: the person making the allegations - the victim - is NOT on trial.
Regardless of your thoughts on the details of the Ched Evans case, there is one thing that I hope you agree with me on: a woman's sexual history should NOT be a factor in the verdict of the man accused of raping her.
OK, some background for those who don't know what I'm talking about:
- Ched Evans is a professional footballer who was accused, and subsequently convicted, of raping a woman.
- He brought the case back for a re-trial after serving his sentence.
- He was acquitted in the re-trial (this week.)
As part of the re-trial, the defence was given special permission by the (male) judge to give details of the woman's sexual history, and to bring previous sexual partners to the stand as evidence against her.
Let me explain, as calmly as I can (because HOW DARE THEY,) why this was a stupid-a*s decision:
- Her behaviour with past sexual partners is NO INDICATION of how she acted that night.
- It DOES NOT MATTER whether she was 'instigating' or acting flirtatiously - what matters is how drunk she was, if she was capable of giving consent, and/or if she at any point indicated she wanted to stop.
- Bringing up people who had sex with her a few days before is A BLATANT ATTEMPT AT SLUT-SHAMING.
- Women are ALLOWED to have as many sexual partners as they want - this is the 21st Century.
- SHE IS NOT ON TRIAL. SHE IS NOT ON TRIAL. SHE IS NOT ON TRIAL. SHE IS NOT ON TRIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a harmful and worrying development, not only for this case, but for others that may follow.
This sends the message that if you have lived a sexually active life, you will not be believed if you are assaulted.
This sends the message that all of your past partners will have the chance to humiliate you in court.
This sends the message that, regardless of truth, the blame will be placed on you.
This sends the message that, even once a conviction is made, there is the chance you will have to sit through the whole thing again.
This sends the message that if you bring allegations to the law, you will end up having your private life examined. You will have to defend yourself, even though you are not the defendant.
This sends the dangerous message to all future rapists and victims, that justice is unfair.
I don't know the answer to this particular case - I wasn't there, and I haven't seen all the evidence. BUT justice is NOT done when a young woman is treated so appallingly by the court.
This trial was not about justice. And that makes me both angry and sad.
Nerd Church is a weekly post where I try to tackle the issues and make the world a little bit better - I have no idea whether it's working or not.
Like this post? Try these:
- Nerd Church - No Future
- Review! - Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
- Review Time! - Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi