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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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'Clothes are not consent': Thongs hung up at Spire to protest use of clothing as rape trial evidence

The protest was organised by ROSA and Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger.

Thongs hung up beside the Spire in Dublin this afternoon
Thongs hung up beside the Spire in Dublin this afternoon
Image: National Women's Council of Ireland via Twitter

THONGS HAVE BEEN hung up beside the Spire in Dublin city this afternoon as people turned out in protest over victim-blaming following comments made about the underwear of a woman in a Cork rape trial. 

The protest was organised by ROSA and Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger following concerns over the closing argument comments in a Cork Circuit Criminal Court case. The counsel for the defence mentioned to the jury that the 17-year-old complainant was wearing a thong. 

“Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone,” Elizabeth O’Connell SC is reported as stating in court, adding:

“You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”

The man in the case was found not guilty.

In a post on the event’s Facebook page, ROSA said: “Clothing has nothing to do with consent. It’s time the judiciary were trained not to use rape myths. Time is up for rape culture. Join the protest.” 

Speaking about today’s protest, ROSA spokesperson Rita Harold said that the demonstration was called today to “protest victim blaming” in society.

“This trend of rape myths being brought into court cases is very worrying and needs to be challenged,” Harold said. 

She added that the group wants to “build on the national solidarity” that was seen in Ireland during the Eighth Amendment referendum. 

Signs held by demonstrators at the Spire this afternoon included phrases such as “End culture of violence against women”, “My clothes don’t determine my consent”, and “End victim blaming in the courts”. 

Protesters can be heard chanting “Clothes are not consent” in one video posted on social media.

Thong in the Dáil

Today’s protest comes a day after a black lace thong was held up in the Dáil by Ruth Coppinger TD, as she raised concerns over the comments made during the trial. 

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions yesterday, Coppinger said it was time for ‘rape myths’ to be dispelled within court cases, and called for more training for the legal profession. 

The cameras in the Dáil chamber quickly cut away from Coppinger when she raised the thong in the air. The use of any prop is against the rules of the Dáil. 

Coppinger said this sort of rhetoric in rape trials needs to end. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the whole issue needs to be examined, adding that a review is already underway into the evidence offered at trial and the procedures adopted in such trials. 

He said he wanted to be clear that nobody asks to be raped and it is never the victim’s fault no matter what they wear, drink or where they go. 

 With reporting by Christina Finn

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