Teenage girl’s underwear used as evidence in Irish rape trial prompting mass protests
Protests were held in Ireland Wednesday after a teenage girl’s underwear was used as evidence against her in the trial last week of a man accused of raping her.
On Nov. 6, a 27-year-old man, who denied raping the 17-year-old, was found not guilty by a jury in Cork, which is 250 kilometres southwest of Dublin.
In her closing argument to the jury, the defendant’s lawyer, Elizabeth O’Connell, told jurors they should have regard for the fact that the teenage girl was wearing lacy underwear, according to the Irish Examiner.
“Does the evidence out rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front,” O’Connell said.
WATCH: Politician holds up lace thong in Irish Parliament to protest rape trial remarks
The use of underwear as evidence sparked a backlash across the country. On Tuesday an Irish MP protested the verdict by holding up a lace thong in parliament to highlight the issue of sexual violence.
“It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here,” MP Ruth Coppinger said while showing blue lacy underwear in parliament. “But the reason I am doing it, how do you think a rape victim or a woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in the court?”
WATCH: Protesters take to the streets in Ireland in anger over ‘thong trial’
The chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre also criticized the use of underwear as evidence in the trial, saying there must be reforms and clearer directions at the trial level around issues such as clothing.
“It comes up very, very regularly how someone was dressed, the amount of drink they had taken, why they hadn’t screamed if they were in trouble,” Noeline Blackwell told Independent.ie.
“These kinds of mythologies and stereotypes around rape come up again and again in court cases because the defence to rape is that the sex was consensual. So anything the defendant can do to suggest there was consent will be used,” she said.
Protests planned across Ireland
Protests were planned in a number of cities in Ireland, including Dublin, in reaction to the controversy.
The Rosa Socialist Feminist Movement held a protest in Cork “to stand in solidarity with survivors and demand an end to victim-blaming in the courts.”
Many others have taken to social media to protest victim-blaming in the courts, using the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent and posting photographs of their underwear.
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