There new sentencing guidelines for assault offences commence on 1 July 2021 and it makes it worthwhile reflecting on where the law is now with sex offending. SMQ Legal both defend against such offences as well as support victims of such abuse via our family law team.  Justice is always the key and providing fair representation is so important.

“Don’t Use My Underwear to Justify Rape”

An uproar of protests arose from one outrageous decision made by Peru’s courts. Women standing together to support each other is a true sight. The images of strong women with powerful placards and even wearing red knickers to symbolise the demonstration.

Back in January 2019, there was a rape case where a 22-year-old victim fell unconscious after  deceivingly being taken to a party. She woke up naked the next day in the accuser’s bed. The accused claimed that the victim made these allegations as an attempt to create ‘revenge’ against him. The Judges, Ronald Anayhuaman Andia, Diana Jurado Espino and Lucy Castro Chacaltana dismissed the case stating the absolute unexpected: “[red underwear] gives the impression that the woman prepared or willing to have sexual relations with the accused”. To add, the statements also criticised the women’s character on the trial. By claiming that she was not as shy and reserved as displayed in court all because the underwear she wore on the night of the rape was used as evidence to prove she had sexual intentions with the defendant. Apparently, this meant the represented personality in court did not match with the underwear used on the night of the attack. As if, her underwear suggested that ‘she was asking for it’. The blame in the situation was on the evidence rather than on the accuser.

Inevitably, the protests erupted in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Chants of the song ‘A Rapist in Your Path’ was used which included lyrics such as, “The fault was not mine, nor where I was, not what I was wearing”. The strong message was an intention to offset the victim-blaming strategies which are usually used in rape cases. The angry demonstrators attempted conveyed a powerful, but truthful message: “Lace is just lace, it’s not an insinuation”, the desperation to overturn the controversial ruling was crystal clear.

After the backlash to the original decision on October 30th, there has been a request for retrial by the Public Ministry of Peru. A new court representing the retrial was requested by the Ombudsman’s Office; this should be refreshing as new eyes and experts will be able to deal with the case and come to a more justified conclusion. The original judgement was unsurprisingly rejected by the Peru’s Ministry of Women saying: “The eradication and punishment of violence against women can only be possible with an impartial Judicial power that is aware of its fundamental role in order to eradicate rape and discrimination based on gender”.

Amongst rape cases, the evidence using the garment of a victim is a common tactic. And it is not just Peru. Fairly recently, a similar case in Ireland where the defence lawyer stated: “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” This caused a disturbing outbreak to the point that Ruth Coppinger, an Irish MP, displayed lacy underwear in parliament to raise awareness of “routine victim-blaming”.

In Peru, it has been found that rape constitutes 48% of abuse. Moving forward, the reformation is pending. Due to the course of fury amongst many Peruvians, this has resulted in Ica’s Human Rights Coordinator to order an extensive gender bias course for the legal system’s majority. The aim is to eliminate the backward stereotypes that are deeply rooted within the country. The patriarchy needs to be abolished.

By Phoebe Simoes

Student Intern

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