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Thread: Rape crisis group calls for reforms

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    Politics.ie Member KingKane's Avatar
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    Default Rape crisis group calls for reforms

    The Rape Crisis Network has said that radical reform of the criminal justice system is needed to ensure more sex offenders are punished for their crimes

    extracts from ireland.com

    With only 1 per cent of rapes and attacks resulting in convictions, the Rape Crisis Network Ireland called for laws to be updated and a statutory definition of consent to be introduced.

    Fiona Neary, RCNI executive director, said Ireland should be ashamed of its poor record of protecting rape victims and punishing perpetrators.

    "The Irish criminal justice system has found it notoriously difficult to deliver justice for victims of sexual violence. This absence of justice must be tackled with every urgency," she said.

    "We call on all responsible, the gardaí, the prosecutors, the judiciary and the legislature to act now to overcome Ireland's shameful record in failing survivors of sexual violence in our society and failure to prevent further crimes of sexual violence."

    Amongst the items called for are a statutory definition of consent, removal of the requirement for the DPP to consent to the prosecution of a marital rape, complete review of the Punishment of Incest Act 1908 and reform of complainant/defendant anonymity provisions.

    The issue of consent hit the headlines after a rape trial involving a Co Donegal student collapsed last week at a Welsh court.

    Lawyers for the accused argued that the woman consented and the trial at Swansea Crown Court collapsed after the woman admitted under cross-examination she could not be sure she had not consented because she was too drunk to remember.

    Some of the items should be straightforward to achieve, however, I wonder if a legal definition of consent is that straightforward or indeed what use it would have been in the case cited as the woman involved said she couldn't remember.
    Dan Sullivan. I was back but we still couldn't all have a vote. http://www.danielsullivan.ie/blog/

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    Politics.ie Member agora's Avatar
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    While rape is of course a terrible thing, we should be very careful before we start going down the road of making consent more loosely defined so as to make any defence impossible in the face of a "victim's" word. To do so would be to damage the principle of being innocent until proven guilty. Where drink is involved it's often very hard to say who was at fault, and it would be wrong to assume that it's always a case of a violent and manipulative male getting an innocent female drunk and then raping her.

    What would seem to have happened in this case (reading the papers on it anyway) is that both parties were plastered, they got intimate, one thing led to another and they ended up having sex. Now, the fact that the girl may have bitterly regretted the incident afterwards does not make it rape. If the guy honestly believed at the time that she was giving consent, or if they were both so locked as to make deliberate force on either party's part impossible to ascertain, then it would be unjust to convict him of rape.
    "Partout où la liberté règne elle est incessamment attaquée et très souvent en péril” – Jean Jacques Rousseau.

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    Politics.ie Newbie Quant's Avatar
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    both parties were plastered, they got intimate, one thing led to another and they ended up having sex
    I thought he was sober, and was taking her home? He'd been working so hadn't drank anything.

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    Politics.ie Member agora's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quant
    both parties were plastered, they got intimate, one thing led to another and they ended up having sex
    I thought he was sober, and was taking her home? He'd been working so hadn't drank anything.
    The article I read wasn't clear on that point. In any case, if he honestly believed that she was giving consent, it comes to the same thing.
    "Partout où la liberté règne elle est incessamment attaquée et très souvent en péril” – Jean Jacques Rousseau.

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    Every civilisation has a variety of legal and extra legal rules and conventions govenning carnal access to women. Ours is no different but now that we are faced with behaviour traditionally seen as masculine in women - boozing and drugging to excess, actively seeking sex etc etc etc - we are faced with difficult choices in whether or not the rules have to be changed

    Sorry to be crude but if drink makes men think with their d!cks then it equally makes women think with their cl!ts and whether we are to allow them revoke consent once another bodily organ (the brain) retakes control, is moot.

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    Thats a scary story pippycoats and fair play to your friend for going ahead with the trial. Her bravery is exceptional.

    The role of the judiciary is crucial in these cases and I have always felt that some judges might be a bit old-fashioned in their veiws on behaviour of women in modern society and that this feeds into the possable hostility that women feel in Irish courts with regards to rape cases.

    I personally hold rape up there with murder but thats just a my opinion. Its difficult to say wether heavier sentances would make a difference to mens behaviour towards women or wether more convictions would make more women come forward but if the current way is not working then a change should be tried even if all the consequences of that change are not fully worked out.

    Trial and error(forgive the pun) are not the best way to test new sentancing or judicial procedures but paralysis by analisys is worse.

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    Politics.ie Member KingKane's Avatar
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    Part of the difficult with the case last week was that impact of it being thrown out may mean that more women who have been attacked may not proceed with their cases. Part of the reason questions have been asked is that if the woman in the case gave the same answers to the CPS then how did the case come to trial as it should have been apparent that the issue of consent could not be resolved at all in this case.

    My own suspicion is that the woman involved was not in a position to consent,. However, too much of our culture rewards the sexually agressive male even in consensual sex. While that continues to be the case, sexually agressive men will continue to presume that sex is there for the taking unless kneed in the balls.

    There are a lot of things that can be done on the legal side, but most of the effort has to be longer termn on the preventative side and that means proper sex / relationship education for both sexes.
    Dan Sullivan. I was back but we still couldn't all have a vote. http://www.danielsullivan.ie/blog/

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    Politics.ie Member agora's Avatar
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    As this is such a sensitive issue for both the victim and the accused, the emphasis should be on protecting the innocent as much as possible. In some cases this is the plaintiff, in others it may very well be the defendant. Accusing someone of rape is a very serious matter and one which could ruin a persons life. That's fine if things are clear cut and the guy is guilty, he deserves to suffer. However, if things are more confused and it is reasonable to conclude that the defendant at least thought that the plaintiff was giving consent, then that's a different matter altogether. Certainly a less aggressive style of cross-examination and better education of conservative judges ("She went out in a mini-skirt, of course she was looking for sex!") would be welcomed, but the presumption of innocence must be maintained, which unfortunately can sometimes mean a victim has to face some tough questions.
    "Partout où la liberté règne elle est incessamment attaquée et très souvent en péril” – Jean Jacques Rousseau.

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    Politics.ie Member KingKane's Avatar
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    I wonder if part of the problem is that the court attempts to establish whether or not in the lead up to act itself an impression or presumption of consent was created.

    Perhaps, it should be ditched much like in the manner of previous sexual history is no longer routinely allowed unless it is directly relevant to the case, i.e. it involved both parties. Or elements of roleplay etc. That is not to same that it doesn't crop up, it does, just not as much as it did.

    In certain sexual activities there are code words to ensure that nothing gets out of hand. Perhaps, we need to revisit the basic elements of human interaction. Lads, women enjoy sex and when they are interested they will let you know, in the absence of any indication just presume they are not interested. It makes life much more straightforward.

    Personally, I prefer to err on the side of extreme caution, not so much to protect myself but I would be very upset to think that I'd read any possible signals incorrectly and had thus hurt someone whether they were someone I cared about, just liked, or didn't even know.

    And a more representative judiciary would be good too. Though it would not be cure all. A 7/5 8/4 mix with the 7/8 female is the one that acquicts most often in rapes.
    Dan Sullivan. I was back but we still couldn't all have a vote. http://www.danielsullivan.ie/blog/

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    Your presumption that women will "let you know" they are interested in sex is naive Kingkane. Women, when sober, are usually too scared of rejection to make the initiative and the truth of male female relations is the men do it. Women, when drunk, begin to lose inhibition and do as they wouoldn't when sober. Therein lies some of the trouble.

    We are not going to have a situation where men wait for women to give permission to chance their arms otherwise we simply won't have the sexual game played at all.

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