Plaid Cymru’s Liz Saville Roberts tabled a bill in the House of Commons today. The Bill replicates the so-called ‘Rape Shield Law’ which exists in the USA, Canada and Australia and aims to prevent the cross-examination of a rape complainant’s sexual history, previous behaviour or appearance.
Liz Saville Roberts spoke passionately, citing a number of cases that she’d come across in her time spent with both rape victims, support groups such as Amythest and Senior Welsh police officers.
She discussed one particular case of a lady called Emma who was attacked by a man who gave her the option of be raped or be killed. Fortunately, she was aided by two off duty police officers who heard her screams. The trial fixated on why Emma chose to wear a red dress that evening.
A lady called Ivy was told at a grounds rules hearing that her sexual history would not be used. But at court, she faced questions and allegations that she was promiscuous. Ms Saville Roberts said that “There was no judicial intervention.”
Moira was terrified that her attacker would find her on social media, she changed her name, moved house and removed her name from the electoral register. Moira was told by the police that there is neither policy nor legislation to prevent her name being given to the attacker, that it was down to officer discretion. The new clause being introduced will ensure that names of the victim are not given by the police.
Ms Saville Roberts declared that 36% of rape trials in Northumbria included questioning on the victims promiscuity or appearance and that the sexual act law introduced in 1999 is no longer protecting victims, hence the need for this clause.
“The humiliation of victims of sexual assault in matters irrelevant to the case must not be allowed to continue”.
In another case, a 16 year old girl was raped at a party by a fellow student. He was arrested, charged and then bailed with the condition of no contact with the girl. Ms Saville Roberts stated “To the family’s shock and the victims distress, upon the girl returning to school, she was placed in the same class as her attacker.” The provisions in this bill will introduce guidance for safeguarding schools and offer advice in serious sexual assault crimes.
“Fear to report is compounded by the fear to prosecute”
Out of the 335’778 cases reported to the police only 7.5% of those resulted in prosecution. 90% of the victims were female and 10% were male.
The bill passed with no objections. What a hero.