Sexual Violence on Trial provides a contemporary critical examination of the investigation, prosecution and cultural contexts of sexual violence. It draws on Northern Ireland as a case study, while also drawing on experiences from other jurisdictions across the United Kingdom and island of Ireland.
Public and academic debates concerning the high-profile ‘Belfast/Rugby Rape Trial’ and the subsequent Gillen review of the arrangements to deliver justice in serious sexual offence cases have been mirrored at a global level with movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp. This book brings together the perspectives of practitioners and academics to discuss contemporary challenges surrounding the societal and legal framing of sexual violence. It examines key aspects of the criminal justice process including the challenges of supporting victims; of responding to a range of forms of sexual violence such as rape, peer abuse, intimate partner violence and forced-to-penetrate cases; as well as alternative perspectives and future reforms. It also considers broader debates including balancing the interests of victims and defendants; the impact of cultural myths and stereotypes; the challenges of the digital age; models of consent; legal representation for victims and anonymity and publicity surrounding trials.
Written by leading authorities in the field, Sexual Violence on Trial will be of great interest to students and scholars of Criminology, Law and Sociology.
Part I: The Criminal Justice Process
1 Sexual Offence Trials in Northern Ireland: The Cultural and Legal Dimensions
Rachel Killean, Eithne Dowds and Anne-Marie McAlinden
2 Reflections on Practice: Experiences of Providing Care to Victims in the Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Northern Ireland
3 Sexual Crime – A Policing Perspective
4 Serious Sex Offences in England and Wales: Defending the Indefensible
Jeremy Dein and Luke Marsh
5 Supporting Victims through the Trial Process
6 Sexual Offence Trials: The Practical Challenges for a Judge Tasked to Deliver Justice.
Judge Patricia Smyth
Part II: Social and Cultural Influences
7 Asking for It: How Rape Myths Can Prejudice Trials and Potential Solutions
8 Forced to Penetrate Cases: Deconstructing Myths and Stereotypes
9 Harmful Sexual Behaviours Among Children and Young People On-Line: Cultural and Regulatory Challenges
Elizabeth Agnew and Anne-Marie McAlinden
10 Exploring Intimate Partner Sexual Violence: A Practitioners Perspective
11 A Hierarchy of Masculinity and Sexuality: Gendering the Police, and the Obfuscation of Policing Sexual Violence Against Non-Heterosexual Victims
Part III: Comparative Perspective
12 Regulation of Media and Social Media Comment on Rape Trials: Achieving Best Practice
13 Rethinking Affirmative Approaches to Consent: A Step in the Right Direction
14 Legal Representation for Sexual Assault Complainants
15 Restorative Justice after Sexual Violence: An International Perspective
16 Challenges in the Investigation and Prosecution of Rape and Serious Sexual Offences in Scotland
Michele Burman and Sandy Brindley
Part IV: Alternative Perspectives and Future Reforms
17 Contextualising Violence: An Anti-Carceral Feminist Perspective
18 Breaking the Silence to End the Violence: ‘Speaking Out’ as Feminist Strategy
19 Cultural Scaffolding and the Long View of Rape Trials
20 Putting Sexual Violence on Trial: Challenges and Future Directions
Eithne Dowds, Anne-Marie McAlinden and Rachel Killean
"This collected edition explores the nuances and complexities associated with addressing sexual violence in Northern Ireland – a jurisdiction that has been overlooked by scholars but offers a unique perspective on the challenges inherent in criminal justice responses to rape and sexual assault. Impressive in scope, it brings together perspectives from support services, legal practitioners and academics while at the same time connecting the Northern Irish context to broader global efforts and debates about rape law reform and feminist activism. In an era where rape is irrefutably on the public agenda following the Global #MeToo movement, Rachel Killean, Eithne Dowds and Anne-Marie McAlinden have collated an insightful, compelling and rigorous collection of perspectives whose attention is forward-focused on legal, social and cultural change in ways that place survivors’ voices and experiences at the centre of the discussion. The accessibility and importance of this collection is such that it is a must-read for anyone working in the field of sexual violence, and is deeply relevant to academics and practitioners around the world not just those situated in Northern Ireland."
Rachel Loney-Howes, Criminologist, School of Health and Society, University of Wollongong, Australia
"In Sexual Violence on Trial, Rachel Killean, Eithne Dowds and Anne-Marie McAlinden have successfully produced a thoroughly rich and rewarding resource for students, academics, and policy-makers alike. Through dialogue across academic and practitioner perspectives, the chapters within this collection carefully expose and examine the myriad challenges that too many complainants of sexual violence continue to face in securing justice: from initial reporting, to police and forensic investigation, prosecutorial decision-making, and the criminal trial itself. The book is grounded by the unique context of reformist ambitions in Northern Ireland, ignited by the recent Gillen Review, but contributions are consistently and impressively informed by a wealth of international and comparative insights which ensure that they also transcend those jurisdictional bounds. Chapters reflect powerfully on – amongst other things - feminist activist strategies for rape reform, the tenacity of myths and cultural scaffolding of sexual violence, and potential for alternative or additional forms of redress, outside the criminal justice process. In my view, this excellent book – both as individual chapters and as a collectivity – deserves to be read and engaged with widely, by scholars, students, practitioners and activists internationally."
Vanessa Munro, Professor, School of Law, University of Warwick, UK
"Grounded in the work of those directly involved in responding to sexual violence in support services, investigation and legal process and informed by in-depth academic research this unique text situates sexual violence in Northern Ireland within an international context. Reflecting socio-political campaigns and foregrounding survivors’ experiences, it challenges the adequacy of recent law reform, given the exploitative social, political and cultural realities of gendered, sexualised relations – realities reproduced in popular discourse and persistent myths that diminish the pain of sexual violence, violation and rape. Drawing on international initiatives, it explores the potential of anti-carceral alternatives to regulation and punishment informed by current debates in feminist analyses."
Phil Scraton, Professor Emeritus, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast, and Director, Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative, UK