Rape myths do the most damage when they show up among jurors – and for that reason, juries should not be part of sexual assault trials, Louise Nicholas says.
The anti-rape advocate believes jurors in such trials often bring their own biases and trauma about the crime into the courtroom.
“People go in with their own thinking. They may have been a victim of sex violence in their lifetime, and a lot of those people have their judgments, like I didn’t need a counsellor, I didn’t need to go through this.
“To take jurors out of the process is a huge step forward to abolishing rape myths.”
I’m massively against Labour’s policy to make people who have sex prove they are innocent of rape. Reversing the burden of proof is an horrific idea.
But I think there are more balanced arguments over whether rape trials should be with Judges only.
Nicholas was in Wellington to talk to Victoria University students about sexual assault and the justice system, days after Wellington police dropped a sexual assault inquiry into an incident outside Massey University last month.
Nicholas said false allegations of rape make it harder for victims. “We certainly do have women, in particular, who come forward because they’re pissed off about their boyfriend shagging their mate.”
The danger was that the public then started to assume all claims were false, she said. “It does put a stigma on other victims.”
Good to see Nicholas talk about the damage caused by false allegations. They harm actual rape victims.
The removal of jurors from rape trials was recommended by the Law Commission in 2012, but was rejected by the Government.
Acting Justice Minister Chris Finlayson said that the right to a jury trial was a fundamental part of the criminal justice system, but the re-traumatising of victims should not be.
“The Ministry of Justice is working on legislation to tighten the rules about questioning a complainant about previous sexual experiences, and establishing a presumption that child witnesses give their evidence via the video of their police interview.”
Which seem reasonable steps.Tags: rape