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Privacy remains a victim when the rape case hits the judiciary – News

This time the situation should have been different, but Brooke was incredible as police officers demanded that all scraps of phone data be handed over to investigators. Not because he was suspected of being a crime, but because he was a victim of the crime. A few years ago, a man Brooke had previously considered a friend pulled her into an alley in London, suffocating her against a wall, and sexually assaulting her violently. Her fear and humiliation was more than an invasion of her body and seemed to be his goal. Several times she ran away, but she said she had him catch her, throw her back at the wall, and attack her again.

She said she reported the attack to police, who were initially supportive. But she went to “digital strip search” (a British policy requiring police to give victims of sex crimes full access to phone data, social media accounts, school records, and even therapist’s notes). After refusing to submit, they closed her proceedings.

“Before this happened, I always thought the assault was the most traumatic event that could happen,” said Brooke, a London-based actress. (The Times doesn’t use her full name because she’s a victim of sexual assault.) But in fact, she’s like a suspect who finds her experience reporting a crime to the police and investigates herself. He said he was just treated by. Much worse.

Less than 2 percent of rape cases reported to British police have been prosecuted. And digital strip search, Recent government reports have been criticized As one of the causes of the catastrophic failure of the judicial system regarding rape and sexual assault.

Brooke’s experience is the epitome of efforts to deal with these failures, Post #MeToo era, Unless you consider the social and institutional conditions that created them in the first place, you are destined.

And some experts now argue that the judicial system itself may need to be radically restructured until it questions the roles of juries and victims.

Some progress has been made in the UK, at least when it comes to policy setting. In May, the government’s public prosecutor’s office announced that victims of sex crimes would no longer be subject to digital strip searches, following a court ruling that police could only obtain data according to a “reasonable investigation line.” did.

So Brooke asked to resume her proceedings. She was just told that nothing had changed for her, despite the changes in the rules on paper. If she did not hand over her data, they did not proceed with her proceedings.

The struggle is not limited to the United Kingdom. Bill Cosby’s rape conviction was revoked for procedural reasons in the United States last week. His free walking questioned many, as Mr. Cosby’s indictment was one of the few cases welcomed as a sign that the judicial system was finally taking rape and sexual assault seriously. .. #MeToo social calculations It may lead to actual prosecution and protection.

Kate Ellis, a lawyer at the Women’s Justice Center, a legal charity in London, represented Brooke in her fight to resume her proceedings without giving up her privacy. But she also said she sympathizes with the shackles of police officers finding themselves now that digital strip search has been officially abolished, but there is still the same incentive that led to its creation in the first place. doing.

It is important to understand that when police and prosecutors terminate the proceedings due to lack of evidence or because the victim ceases to cooperate, they have little effect. However, they can face serious blowbacks if they bring about an incident that collapses or fails.

“So imperfect or previously dishonest victims have a sense of why they are prosecuting the case.?? ” She said in an interview.

The public prosecutor’s office denied that deciding which case to prosecute was risk averse.In parliament testimony In June, the prosecutor’s chief, Max Hill, said the prosecutor was ready to bring in cases that passed the statutory exam and apparently held the police accountable, because too few cases were referred to the prosecution. “I’m having problems very early on.”

But the two are not separate. Police often demand extensive digital evidence because they believe that prosecutors will not proceed without it.

And the reason for that reluctance is that Ellis found in her work with victims of sexual assault, police fearing that they would be accused of not disclosing evidence.

In the United Kingdom, as in the United States, police officers and prosecutors have a legal obligation to disclose evidence that may be relevant to their defense. In 2017, a well-known British college student rape prosecutor collapsed days after the trial after police admitted that he did not pass the thousands of messages found on the victim’s phone to the defense.

The collapse of the case caused anger. The public prosecutor’s office has publicly apologized and published a review of 600 other cases to prevent similar mistakes.

There are also broader cultural issues to address. It is still common for the defendant lawyer in a sexual assault case to attack the credibility of the victim and claim that the encounter in question was agreed or never happened. A sexist but still widespread belief about sexual assault, just as efforts to appeal to the judge’s belief in “rape myths” are common. Believed, or men are out of control of sexual impulses and should not tolerate the consequences of not doing so.

Evidence rules theoretically prohibit rape myth-based defenses, such as the introduction of information about the victim’s sexual history.But the limit is Limited and often ineffective.. In fact, research shows that defense lawyers often rely heavily on rape myths to shape their arguments against the jury.

And it works.

Fiona Leverick, a law professor at the University of Glasgow who studies rape myths, said: “And the main reason is that they believe in rape myths.”

According to Ellis, risk-averse police officers have the impression that they are obliged to look into the victim’s personal history for evidence related to everything the defendant may raise. .. ..

In other words, the problem is that to change any part of the defective system, you need to change the other part of the system that created and persisted the problem.

Stopping rape victims from digital strip searches means addressing police incentives to investigate victims. This requires addressing the prosecutor’s risk aversion with respect to disclosure to the defense and addressing the role of rape myths. Courts need to address widespread beliefs about rape myths within society itself.

And while digital strip search is unique to the UK, all countries wrestling with the legacy of #MeToo face similar challenges. A Recent research Beliefs in rape myths are also widespread in the United States, with all the implications of how it affects jury pools, prosecutor decisions, and police investigations under certain circumstances of the U.S. judicial system. It turned out to have an impact.

With the release of Its end-to-end ray previewThe UK Government, with a focus on Britain and Wales, has promised more resources and more training for police and prosecutors with the aim of increasing prosecution rates.

However, some experts say the promised changes are inadequate and argue for more important changes.

An independent committee led by Scottish civil appellant Leeona Dorrian, the equivalent of Scottish end-to-end rape preview. Scotland recommends testing To avoid jury prejudice and beliefs in rape myths, the complete elimination of juries in rape cases affects the outcome of the trial.

“Traditional arguments in favor of the jury are filled with equally compelling arguments for a judge-only trial.

In the meantime, thousands of victims of rape and sexual assault feel they lack the power to move and act on the system. Brooke’s police experience left her feeling, “It doesn’t matter if I was beaten again, when.”

“There is absolutely no one to help me when that happens. I’m really scared.”

Privacy remains a victim when the rape case hits the judiciary

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