TD Ruth Coppinger has brought the treatment of alleged rape victims to the fore today by holding up a lace thong to the Dáil.
The Solidarity TD was protesting a recent case in Cork, where a teenage girl’s underwear was discussed by the court during a rape trial.
The defending solicitor of the Cork Circuit Criminal Court case sparked fury when she told the jury to consider what the alleged victim was wearing and whether her underwear suggested she was ‘open to meeting someone and being with someone’.
Elizabeth O’Connell SC told jurors: “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”
The accused 27-year-old man was found not guilty.
Ruth Coppinger TD today challenged the use of ‘rape myths’ in trials and said women were getting weary at “routine victim-blaming in Irish courts”.
She pulled a thong out of her sleeve 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 victim’s coming forward?”
Ms Coppinger added: “We’ve seen recently clothes, fake tan and even contraception being used to discredit women.”
She pointed out that an estimated 10% of rapes get reported, according to a Rape Crisis Network study.
I hear cameras cut away from me when I displayed this underwear in #Dáil. In courts victims can have their underwear passed around as evidence and it's within the rules, hence need to display in Dáil. Join protests tomorrow. In Dublin it's at Spire, 1pm.#dubw #ThisIsNotConsent pic.twitter.com/DvtaJL61qR
— Ruth Coppinger TD (@RuthCoppingerTD) November 13, 2018
The Taoiseach replied: “Nobody asks to be raped and it’s never the victim’s fault.”
“Nobody who is a victim of sexual violence or victim of rape is ever to blame for the crime committed on them and I believe that any defence along those lines is absolutely reprehensible”.
He said the Government has committed to progressing the equality agenda and efforts are being put into the subject of consent in schools and workshops.