Brendan Harkin Profile picture
Mar 28, 2018 18 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Verdict today is frustrating but not surprising.

The disparity between the estimated cases of rape and those actually reported is huge. The disparity between those reported and those successfully convicted is a gaping chasm.
From the offset a victim will be thinking of things like the public reaction to accusations of rape, particularly against people of power.
How they will be questioned in court, how it will be reported, whether the police will even believe them are an immediate dissuasion.
Those who do have the bravery to bring a case forward are bringing themselves into that arena where someone is being paid to prove that they are a liar using any means at their disposal.
The majority of rape occurs behind closed doors between people who in some way know each other. It's a small minority that fit the "stranger in the bushes" scenario. It is this behind closed doors situation that creates the nature of the beast we see in these trials.
In a case where you have two people going into a closed room then one coming out and saying they were raped, where irrefutable evidence of it happening is scarce, it's going to fall down to the testimony of those involved and any witnesses.
With nothing else to reply upon the legal teams are left with nothing but to play to the prejudices and assumptions of a jury. We have seen this in this trial. "They're misogynistic banter lads" isn't proof of rape. "She fancies rugby players" isn't proof of innocence.
But to push these angles is the only real option to corroborate whatever circumstantial evidence can be provided. And as we have seen it is utterly brutal. Days of cross-examination to make a jury of peers mistrust someone as a promiscuous liar going after rugby stars.
There is a natural bias towards the defence in this circumstance because the standard of proof required for the crime is "beyond reasonable doubt". Think on that. You're a juror basically being told stories by people and you have to conclude exactly what happened in that room.
The defence merely needs to sow enough confusion and doubt about what happened behind that closed door so that a juror cannot reasonably say they sent someone to prison for the crime without a doubt in their minds about it.
The entire process of reporting a rape and actually following through to prosecution for a victim is a hugely stressful and risk-filled venture.
It's part of the illogical (misogynistic) assumption of "she MUST be lying". Would you lie about a well-known sports star committing one of the most unsuccessfully prosecuted crimes in knowledge their fanbase and the media would be scrutinizing you? You'd be nuts.
In my own opinion, the track record of rape prosecutions shows that the verdict was almost inevitable. The circumstance of the crime against the standard of proof required meant the verdict was almost inevitable.
The fact this girl had the bravery to bring a case was amazing.
It's important to understand just how high a standard the jury had to hold the evidence to.
It's important to consider that this is more complex than simply assuming "not guilty" = she was a lying attention seeker out for money/fame.
Cases like this shine a spotlight on the ethics of officers of the court and journalists and how we should expect them to handle these matters.
They highlight the overwhelmingly daunting odds faced by victims and the difficulty in reconciling a high standard of proof with a crime that in its very nature is a very difficult to prove to that standard.
The system is already tilted heavily in the favour of the defence, nothing really needs to be done to improve things for them.
Victims need better support and a standard of common decency.
The people who supported #MeToo yet dismiss #IBelieveHer need to reflect on why they do.
I dunno where I was going with this really, it's just a frustrated ramble about how we all saw this coming and we know where the problems lie. The difficulty is pushing to fix it.
In the meantime, show your support to @RCNIreland and @NEXUS_NI.
My eternal respect to the woman who, despite the utterly daunting odds against her and the immeasurable risks involved, took a chance to seek justice.

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