17-Year-Old's Underwear Is Used Against Her In A Rape Case

Photo: Richard Cummins/Getty Images
Cork city, Ireland
Rapists cause rape. Not what a woman has had to drink, how she behaves or what she happens to be wearing, and that includes what she is wearing beneath her clothes. But just this week – in post-#MeToo 2018 – the type of underwear worn by a girl who accused a man of rape was considered relevant in an Irish courthouse.
On Wednesday, a 27-year-old man was found not guilty of raping a 17-year-old girl in County Cork, Ireland, after his defence barrister urged jurors to reflect on the underwear the girl had been wearing on the night, the Irish Examiner reported. The jury of eight men and four women reached their unanimous verdict after an hour-and-a-half of deliberation.
The issue of consent dominated the case, with the girl telling the man: "You just raped me" and the man saying: "No, we just had sex."
In her closing speech, the main senior counsel, Elizabeth O’Connell, argued that the incident had been consensual and urged the jury to consider the type of knickers the girl was wearing in their decision-making, implying that a 'lace front thong' could indicate openness to sex.

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

"Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front."
Arguing for the prosecution, Tom Creed SC told the jury: "She is quite clear she did not consent. She said she never had sexual intercourse before."
There has been intense backlash against O’Connell's comment since the verdict was reached, with the head of Dublin's Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell, hitting out against the use of "rape stereotypes" in rape trials, reported the Irish Examiner.
"When someone goes into court as a complainant ... they are likely to be asked that and are likely to worry about it," she said, suggesting she wasn't surprised by the language used by O’Connell. "All of these things are rape stereotypes that are used by defendants to plant a doubt in the minds of a jury taking away from the law which is that sex without consent is a crime."
Many others have been similarly venting their anger and disbelief at the barrister's comments on social media, describing them as victim-blaming and misogynistic. Some asked what type of underwear would imply a man was "open" to meeting someone, while others wondered what a woman would have to wear to ensure her claims were taken seriously.

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