Dragging a woman’s sexual history into rape cases is a step back for victims

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Dragging a woman’s sexual history into rape cases is a step back for victims

Ched Evans was found not guilty on Friday

Yesterday, footballer Ched Evans was cleared of rape after details of the woman’s sexual history were revealed. He was found guilty of raping the 19-year-old girl in 2012, but the conviction was quashed in April when two of her exes claimed their consensual sexual encounters with her were specifically similar to what Evans had described. Essentially, the sexual history of a woman was dragged up to acquit the man.

This sets a dangerous precedent in rape cases if women are judged on their largely irrelevant sexual past. What happens on one occasion is entirely different from what might happen on another. It’s like clearing a robber because they consensually gave gifts to friends in the past.

Even Northumbria police and crime commissioner Ms Baird told the BBC’s Today programme she viewed this new information as “irrelevant”. She said: “How, in this case, it was ever allowed for evidence that this woman had allegedly had sex with other men, when the questions in the trial were was she so drunk that she lost the capacity to consent and did he reasonably believe that she was not that drunk and in fact she was consenting?

“We’ve gone back, I’m afraid, probably about 30 years.”

Here’s how people have reacted on Twitter:

Ched Evans has been proved innocent by a court of law, we are not to judge who is innocent or who is guilty. But, if we’re dragging sexual history into the debate and placing such importance on it, this only makes it harder for innocent women to come forward in the future for fear of finding themselves in the same situation. Proving what did or didn’t happen behind closed doors is hard enough as it is, and bringing up previous sexual experiences only makes it easier for victims to lose. Coming forward is hard enough as it is, thousands of innocent women get “proven” guilty every year, and cases like this only give them another reason to keep quiet.

Featured image credit: Sky News. 

@daisy_bernard