1st Edition

Adversarial Justice and Victims' Rights Reconceptualising the Role of Sexual Assault Victims

By Mary Iliadis Copyright 2020
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    Adversarial Justice and Victims’ Rights explores the extent to which reforms that offer victims enhanced rights to information and participation across England and Wales, Ireland and South Australia can address sexual assault victims’ procedural and substantive justice concerns.

    The rights, status and treatment of sexual assault victims has emerged as a significant 21st-century concern, occupying the forefront of legal commentary on international policy agendas. Informed by the voices of 26 high-level criminal justice professionals, legal stakeholders and victim support workers, and a quantitative dataset, this book considers whether legal representation can address some of the problems of the prosecution process for sexual assault victims in Victoria and, indeed, in other adversarial jurisdictions that employ similar legislative frameworks. While acknowledging the value of victim-focused reforms, the book contends that cultural changes to the ways in which sexual assault victims are perceived and treated are necessary in order to improve victims’ experiences of the legal process. Reconceptualising the role of sexual assault victims from ‘witnesses’ to ‘participants’ will also increase the likelihood that victims’ rights and interests will be considered alongside those of the state and the accused. Situating its findings within broader debates about the role, rights and treatment of sexual assault victims in adversarial justice systems, the book outlines prospects for the transfer of policy and practice between jurisdictions.

    Adversarial Justice and Victims’ Rights will be of great interest to academic and policy stakeholders engaged in criminology, law and socio-legal studies, as well as students researching sexual violence and victims’ access to justice.


    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Tracing the interest in victims, victims’ rights and sexual assault law reform

    Chapter 3: Procedural justice

    Chapter 4: Providing a check on prosecutorial decision-making

    Chapter 5: Separate legal representation for victims under section 34 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 (Irl)

    Chapter 6: Victim participation through the SACVR

    Chapter 7: The prospect of ILR for sexual assault victims within Victoria’s criminal prosecution process

    Chapter 8: Concluding comments




    Mary Iliadis is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University, Australia, and co-convenor of the Deakin Research into Violence Against Women Hub. Her research adopts a socio-legal framework to examine, critique and impact the rights and treatment of victims of sexual violence in criminal justice systems. More broadly, Mary researches police and prosecutorial discretion in response to gendered violence, including domestic, family and sexual violence, and explores how access to justice is negotiated by victims in criminal trials. In 2019, she was awarded a St Mary’s College Visiting Women’s Fellowship at Durham University, UK and a visiting scholarly position at Nottingham Trent University, UK. She was also nominated as a Semi-Finalist for The Bridge Create Change Award (Seven News Young Achiever Awards (2019)). In 2020, Mary won the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology prize for best ECR publication in criminology. This recognises her standing and leadership in intellectual contributions to her field. Her research has featured in government circles, and she has also received outstanding recognition of her submission to Northern Ireland’s Gillen Review into The Law and Procedures in Serious Sexual Offences.

    "In Adversarial Justice and Victims’ Rights: Reconceptualising the Role of Sexual Assault Victims, Dr Mary Iliadis insightfully explores sexual assault victim–focused reforms from England and Wales, Ireland, and South Australia… She effectively contends that successful victims’ reforms properly reconceptualize victims not as mere witnesses in criminal proceedings but rather as participants with important interests deserving protection…Perhaps Dr Iliadis’ most significant finding is the need for ‘triangulating’ sexual assault victims’ interests with the interests of the State and defendants… Dr Iliadis’ book demonstrates not only a sophisticated approach to assessing the effectiveness of victims’ reforms (a well-crafted survey of knowledgeable criminal justice participants) but also some encouraging notes for future reformers. An overarching theme emerging from examining three different jurisdictions is that a reconceptualization of sexual assault victims’ role within adversarial processes is taking hold, however haltingly and incrementally. That victims might become true participants in adversarial criminal justice processes in the not-too-distant future is not a mere academic dream but something that the arc of history is already bending towards."

    -International Review of Victimology 1–3, Paul G Cassell, University of Utah, 2022