Bid to Stop Rape Victims Being Quizzed on Their Sexual History

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), February 5, 2017 | Go to article overview

Bid to Stop Rape Victims Being Quizzed on Their Sexual History


Byline: DAVID WILLIAMSON Political Editor david.williamson@walesonline.co.uk

WELSH MP Liz Saville Roberts is launching a bid to prevent the crossexamination of rape complainants about their sexual history.

There is widespread concern in parliament that in the wake of the Ched Evans retrial women will be less likely to report rape.

Footballer Mr Evans was cleared of rape in a retrial last year. The jury was permitted to hear details of the complainant's sexual history.

This triggered calls for a change in the law to ensure such disclosures do not become routine.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd Plaid Cymru MP has worked with the charity Voice4Victims on the preparation of a Bill Plaid Liz Saville to stop victims being quizzed about their sexual partners and past behaviour. There were 35,798 complaints of rape in 2015-16 in Wales and England but just 2,689 convictions were recorded.

Ms Roberts hopes her Bill will give the UK a version of the "Rape Shield Law" found in the United States, Canada and Australia. It is intended to "prevent a victim from being put on trial for their clothing, attitude, behaviour or sexual history". Under her Bill, details about behaviour could only be used as evidence if it would be "manifestly unjust to treat them as inadmissible".

Last year female Labour MPs pushed for a change in the law after Mr Evans' retrial, warning that a "dangerous precedent" had been set that "how a victim of rape, usually a woman, has behaved in the past can be taken as evidence of the way she behaved at the time of the alleged rape".

They added: "This will deter victims from disclosing their abuse and will reduce the number of victims presenting their cases to the police for fear of having their private lives investigated."

Ms Roberts' Bill would give further protection to complainants.

It would stop the police in certain circumstances disclosing a victim's identity to a "stranger attacker". The Bill would also extend the range of serious offences that can be sent to the Court of Appeal on grounds of "undue leniency". …

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