Missing the Point

Much has been said over the past few days regarding the verdict of the Ched Evans rape trial. Campaigners supporting rape victims have spoken out of their fear for the way in which the trial was allowed to be conducted, together with the not-guilty verdict and how this will have a direct negative effect on future victims being willing to report these incidents.

Professionals from the legal field as well as the policing field have been quick to point out the legal reasons justifying why the victim’s previous sexual history was allowed to form part of the Defence’s evidence and calling on victims to not let this trial deter them coming forward to report any incidents of rape.

However, the point these professionals seem to be missing is, no matter how justified that legal decision was, the way in which the victim has been publicly degraded and humiliated by the Defence team throughout this trial, is the lasting and stand out memory many victims will remember.

I cannot believe there is a person out there who would wish to volunteer to be so publicly shamed.

Not only has the victim suffered such humiliation in the court room, but with the verdict of not-guilty she must now face a large section of society who believe that a not-guilty verdict equates to the suspect being innocent and that in turn leads many to believe and accuse the victim of lying about the incident.

Again, it becomes irrelevant for professionals to point out that a not-guilty verdict simply means the jury felt there was insufficient evidence to convict.

With so many members of society being willing to shame victims of not-guilty rape trials by labelling them as liars and calling for them to prosecuted for perverting the course of justice, there must be little wonder why future victims will look at the outcome of this trial and be reluctant to come forward.

Of course it doesn’t stop there. Sadly the victim has once again been named on social media, and the threat of legal action does little to dissuade those from continuing to break the law providing life-long anonymity. There have even been some despicable calls for the victim to go on and kill herself.

Having been through a rape trial myself, I know the devastating impact a court case can have, and I have yet to meet a rape victim who has been through the CJS and stated that the court case wasn’t a horrific experience.

Unless and until society as a whole, together with the Criminal Justice System, implements changes to stop this appalling treatment of rape victims there is no doubt that trials like Ched Evans will have damaging effects on future victims being willing to come forward and report incidents of rape.