Ireland: Uproar and Protest Over Teenager’s Underwear Being Used Against Her in Rape Trial

Protests over sexual consent have been taking place in Ireland, a week after a man was acquitted of raping a 17-year-old.

In the trial, the defense lawyer told the jury: “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?” she asked, according to the report.

The case was originally reported by the Irish Examiner on November 6th. Details of the closing argument presented by his senior counsel Elizabeth O’Connell attracted widespread attention and the outrage prompted a series of protest movements.

The day after publication of that court report, the head of Dublin’s Rape Crisis Centre criticized the remarks. She did not question the verdict, but she called for reform of a legal system in which such suggestions are made frequently.

Under the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent, Irish women posted photographs of their underwear in all shapes, colours and materials to protest the use of such techniques in court.

Many pointed to other countries which have tighter controls on what can be introduced in rape trials, and in what manner the jury can consider them.



Protests calling for an end to “victim-blaming in the courts” took place in a number of Irish cities on Wednesday. In Cork, where the trial took place, people gathered to march on the courthouse and lay underwear on its steps.

In the capital, supporters gathered at the Spire of Dublin, where a “washing line” strung between lamp posts displayed women’s underwear. Protests are expected to continue through the week.



Photo: “Some of my favourite panties!” by Silkyside is licensed under CC BY 2.0