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Louise Nicholas Day 2015. The slow road to real (legal) change 1977 – rape shield law 1986 – law and procedure reform following the 1983 Rape Study:

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Presentation on theme: "Louise Nicholas Day 2015. The slow road to real (legal) change 1977 – rape shield law 1986 – law and procedure reform following the 1983 Rape Study:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Louise Nicholas Day 2015

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3 The slow road to real (legal) change 1977 – rape shield law 1986 – law and procedure reform following the 1983 Rape Study: rape in marriage; corroboration etc – Crimes Act 1961: gender neutral laws and grooming offences 2007 – Evidence Act 2006: reform of rules of evidence 2012 – Law Commission issues paper and submission analysis (not completed) 2013 – review of Evidence Act 2006: only one (procedural) change

4 “Just having to get up there and tell a room full of people in detail about what happened. … It’s not a nice thing to have to talk about – being forced to have sex in front of a whole lot of people. I thought I was going to be killed when I was raped. If I had, I would have been spared this – it was worse than the rape itself. If that’s justice, I’d never report another rape.” Rape Study (1983)

5 “It was horrible. I was exhausted; like every part of my body that night was so sore. And it was embarrassing and kind of degrading and disgusting and I felt kind of like I was the one on trial because you know the things they ask you and the things they imply and you’re in a room full of people, 90 percent of whom I don’t know talking about intimate sexual stuff.” MOWA Responding to Sexual Violence (2009)

6 “The issues … cannot simply be cured by changes to the law of evidence. Problems in the system flow from the features of the adversarial system of trial that is, as presently constituted, an essential feature of our system of justice in New Zealand … For these reasons the Commission has concluded that there could be value in investigating whether the adversarial system should be modified or replaced with some alternative model, either for sex offences or for some wider class of offences.” (NZLC Report 103, 2008)

7 “I suggest therefore that if most women are afraid today to make a complaint to the police in cases of rape – and I believe they are – they will continue to be afraid even if this [evidence law] amendment … is passed… We should look at the whole law and see if we need a fundamental alteration in the way we deal with rape cases.” (NZPD, 1976)

8 Cartwright Panel – August 2013: Obstacles to real change Lack of current political will Adult sexual violence off the public radar, given the emphasis on child safety Lack of sector agitation given faith placed in Law Commission work

9 August 2013: The way forward? Lobby to get the Law Commission’s report on alternative processes completed: a significant step Keep the issues in the public arena – especially with regard to adult victims Prepare a (press) statement of what has actually changed since the flurry of Government funded research in 2007 – 2011

10 “Our analysis shows that it is not necessarily the lack of evidence but the attitude towards the evidence which matters. … The view taken here is that changing attitudes, preventing stereotypical notions from infiltrating decision-making and replacing these notions with a realistic understanding of the problem of rape is one of the keys to achieving justice for its victims.” Temkin and Krahé The Justice Gap (2008)

11 “By themselves, the changes to the law are not likely to affect the reporting of rape, and opinion is divided as to whether the trauma of the Courtroom trial for the victim will be lessened. … Those working in victim support services believe that unless there is some commitment made to these wider aspects of public education and moves towards the prevention of rape, then the changes in the law reform process are mere tinkering.” Rosemary Barrington (1984)

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13 Law Commission Issues Paper (2012): Very strong support Child protection orders Special sexual violence court (post-guilty plea) = treatment court Alternative process for sexual offence cases (judge-led/inquisitorial style)

14 Strong support Written reasons for verdict Jury involvement with sentencing Specialist judges Accredited counsel (lawyers) Independent sexual violence advisors

15 24 November 2014 – letter to Law Commission from Minister “I would like you to resume your suspended work on alternative trial processes, with a particular focus on sexual offence cases, to identify best practice for improving the court experience of complainants.”

16 Reporting by September 2015….. Child protection orders Special sexual violence court (post-guilty plea) = treatment court Alternative process for sexual offence cases (judge-led/inquisitorial style) Written reasons for verdict Jury involvement with sentencing Specialist judges Accredited counsel (lawyers) Independent sexual violence advisors

17 Likely in this timeframe Focus on specialised court for hearing sexual offending allegations (training, rules of evidence, fact finder) Other resolution? (RJ style; kaupapa Maori) Ongoing work by another body

18 Updating list…. Child protection orders Special sexual violence court (post-guilty plea) = treatment court Alternative process for sexual offence cases (judge-led/inquisitorial style) Written reasons for verdict Jury involvement with sentencing Specialist judges Accredited counsel (lawyers) Independent sexual violence advisors ?

19 Way forward after LC report Agitation for non-law options – support for survivors; education (community/jurors); alternative avenues for resolution (mediation?) Agitation for other law changes – to definition of consent; burden of proof; reduced role for cross- examination (other ways of testing evidence)


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