Naoise Griffin Richardson joins a protest in support of victims of rape in Dublin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Naoise Griffin Richardson joins a protest in support of victims of rape in Dublin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

G-string comment that outraged a nation

Women are flooding social media with photos of their lacy underwear after horrifying comments about a 17-year-old's G-string were made by a defence lawyer during a rape trial.

Elizabeth O'Connell SC even held up the lacy undies in a court in Ireland when outlining why they indicated consent.

"Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone?" she told the court.

"You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front."

Ms O'Connell SC told jurors they should consider the underwear the complainant wore on the night when making their decision regarding a 27-year-old man accused of raping the teen in Cork.

The man, who denied the charge, wept loudly as he was found not guilty by the jury at the Central Criminal Court in Cork.

The jury of eight men and four women took one and a half hours of deliberation to reach their unanimous verdict last week.

Protests have since been held in Ireland over the handling of the court case.

 

 

Naoise Griffin Richardson joins a protest in support of victims of rape in Dublin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Naoise Griffin Richardson joins a protest in support of victims of rape in Dublin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

An Irish politician also held up a G-string in parliament to highlight the mistreatment of rape victims during adversarial trials.

Ruth Coppinger pulled out the dark blue piece in the chamber during question time as she raised concerns over "rape myths" women face after taking an alleged rapist to court.

"It might seem incongruous or embarrassing to show a thong here but I do so to highlight how a rape victim feels at her underwear being shown in the incongruous setting of a courtroom," she said.

"Clothes, fake tan and even contraception have recently been used to discredit women who had the bravery to go to court.

"We cannot comment on the verdict in the case but we need to focus on the lessons from it.

"Why has nothing been done to stop the routine use of rape myths in trials?"

Women have flooded social media in outrage, sharing photos of their underwear with the hashtag #thisisnotconsent.

 

The social media campaign was kickstarted by the group I Believe Her.

"Simply put, clothing is not consent," Susan Dillon, who started the hashtag, told BuzzFeed News. "This kind of victim blaming is archaic and had no place in our court system.

"We wanted something impactful that would draw attention to the issue hence the use of underwear."

Hundreds of women have also turned out to marches this week, with one awaiting a rape trial herself.

She told the Irish Examiner that she was terrified her underwear would be brought up in evidence.

"What are they going to do to me in court? Who knows what they are going to bring up against me? I struggled to report it (the incident) for ages," she said.

"For a girl to stand up in court and have her underwear mentioned. That could happen to me. The case (where underwear was mentioned) has blown my mind."

 

Women held up their underwear in the protests. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Women held up their underwear in the protests. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Mary Crilly, head of Cork's Sexual Violence Centre, said jurors in rape cases should never be told to have regard for what the women wore.

"I think it will put young girls off reporting and I don't blame them," she told the Examiner. "It is totally unfair and the victim is blamed all the times. We need to change what happens in the courtroom."

In the controversial case the jury heard evidence the pair had gone up a lane and were lying down in a muddy area.

The defendant said that he could not get fully erect and did not think his penis went into her vagina.

"Then she (the complainant) was getting funny, it was like she snapped out of a buzz. She said stop and I stopped. We were going to have sex, she said stop and I stopped," he testified.

Prosecutor Tom Creed SC said the victim was quite clear she did not consent.

 

The protesters called for victim shaming to stop. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The protesters called for victim shaming to stop. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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