Women in Ireland have been posting photos of their underwear on social media to protest against the proceedings in a controversial rape case. The images, which were accompanied by the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent, called out Ireland’s judicial system in response to a barrister in a rape trial who used the 17-year-old complainant’s thong as evidence against her.
Last week, a jury of eight men and four women cleared the man, who was not identified in news reports, of the rape charges, The Irish Examiner reported. Both, the verdict and the defense strategy, that the 27-year-old man’s lawyer, Elizabeth O’Connell, used ignited outrage.
At one point during the trial, O’Connell held a pair of the 17-year-old girl’s underwear up for jurors to look at. O’Connell reportedly said: “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”
The outcry saw Irish lawmaker Ruth Coppinger supporting the protest. She even held up a blue thong during a session of Parliament to protest this normalised “routine victim blaming”. Standing on the floor of Parliament, Coppinger said, “It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here. How do you think a rape victim or a woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in a court?”
TD Ruth Coppinger holds up thong in Dáil to highlight rape trial where accused's defence remarked the 17-year-old complainant was wearing a thong https://t.co/8hekPuhHBu via @rtenews pic.twitter.com/HBmP14Esn7
— RTÉ (@rte) November 13, 2018
Rape Crisis chief executive Noeline Blackwell told the Irish Independent newspaper, “These kind of mythologies and stereotypes around rape come up again and again in court cases, because the defense to rape is that the sex was consensual. So anything the defendant can do to suggest there was consent will be used.”
The online movement, which was started by Irish organisers Mná na hÉireann and I Believe Her Ireland, saw women not only protesting over social media but also staging demonstrations at public place across Ireland. Thousands of them took to the streets with signs featuring their underwear and displaying statistics about rape.
— Em (@lilthumper408) November 13, 2018
— Cllr Sharon Tolan (@sharontolan) November 13, 2018
— Anna Heverin (@annaheverin) November 14, 2018
This is not the first time that women in Ireland have come together to protest the country’s rape culture. Earlier this year, women across the country staged demonstrations and created the movement #/IBelieveHer following the acquittal of four men accused of raping a woman.
These movements show that women, across the world, are becoming alert and coming together to stand against atrocities.
Featured image credit: Teen Vogue