Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Innocent until proven guilty?

This post was sent to us by email & the author wants to remain anon.

A recent case in the news seems to have made everyone an expert in the UK Justice System.

Comments such as 'his life will be ruined' are blatantly untrue - after all, Mike Tyson was *convicted* of rape and as far as I'm aware, is far from having his life ruined. If a convicted rapist doesn't have his life ruined, it's highly unlikely that an acquitted one will have.

Hardly anyone is thinking about the victim might be experiencing today. I'm not going to comment on the verdict itself, apart from to make the following observations:

None of us were in court;
Much of the transcript will be heavily redacted, for many different reasons - so we'll never have the full details about everything said in court;
The jury had no physical evidence such as DNA (as is usual in these cases) and so had to base their decision on what they heard from each witness in court.

Bearing all this in mind, we need a way to manage the torrent of abuse directed at those who make allegations, following a not guilty verdict.

We know 'not guilty' does not equal innocent; and rape and sexual abuse seem to be the only case where those making accusations are 'lying vindictive bitches' (phrase from a tweet I saw this morning).

This child did not choose to take the case to court. This child disclosed abuse and the system rolled into motion around her.

Children do not think about what processes may be set off when they disclose abuse. In my personal and professional experience, children disclose abuse in the hope that it will stop.

They are not 'lying vindictive bitches'. They are traumatised children. Whether you believe that the girl in this case was abused or not, fact of the matter is that the system & its processes will have traumatised her.

I believe in a fair & proportionate criminal justice system. But the one we have at the moment is neither, especially for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

If we are to continue with the premise of innocent until proven guilty, perhaps we could extend that to those who make allegations. After all, she could be charged by the CPS.

Until she has been charged with making false allegations, perjury or perverting the course of justice, and had a fair trial; let's presume she is, also, innocent until proven guilty.

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One thought on “Innocent until proven guilty?

  • L says:

    Too right – I am now listening to Jeremy Vine pontificating on ‘false’ allegations against the actor in question, and likewise saw this, which begins with the premise in the strapline that these were false allegations. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/10/michael-le-vell-acquittal-vindicated Our legal system requires that all doubt always goes in favour of the defendant. If we accept that to be the case, it follows logically that we are letting guilty offenders go rather than lock up innocents, and that therefore there is no excuse for labelling a complainant a liar unless there is actual proof of perjury.