FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 8th OCTOBER 2019
Headlines in the Times and the Daily Mail quoting Harriet Wistrich as advocating the ditching of juries in rape trials is not accurate. Reference is made to an article published yesterday by Catherine Baski for the Legal Action Group, where she discusses the crisis in the prosecution of rape within the criminal justice system:
Would she keep juries for rape trials? Her answer is controversial and bound to attract the ire of some defence lawyers. ‘My jury’s out on that one. I’m not sure – possibly not.
‘You could look at other options, possibly something akin to a discrimination panel, with a judge plus two specialist panel members who look at the facts and context and decide a case.’
Something like that, she suggests, might be fairer. ‘If you look at the way juries just do not convict young men, they just bring their own prejudices and views in too much,’ she says.
Harriet Wistrich today says:
"The reality is that statistics show a collapse in rape convictions, of those cases that are reported to the police only one in 65 result in a conviction. Prosecutors are only putting forward the very strongest of cases which means the vast majority of rape victims do not get justice. Statistics show that certain categories of defendants, including in particular, young men, are less likely to be convicted and certain categories of rape victims, including those that are intoxicated and those with mental illness are very unlikely to get justice. Many reforms have been made to improve the prospect of justice for rape victims but little has changed and one option might be to pilot alternatives to juries who continue to be subject to the very powerful rape myths and stereotypes that pervade our society."
The Centre for Women’s Justice aims to bring together specialist lawyers, academics and other experts in the field of violence against women, with those working on the frontline as activists, survivors and service providers to bring strategic law challenges and ensure access to justice for victims of male violence. By connecting these specialist areas we hope to better monitor the challenges on the ground and identify particular cases to take forward. We hope to access the expertise of a range of experts to enhance our arguments and evidence base and have maximum impact. By networking across the jurisdiction of England and Wales, through publicity and training we aim to ensure that all those who require access to good lawyers in this area can get connected.
Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ):
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