Women share photos of underwear to protest use of teen's thong in rape trial
Women around the world are sharing images of their underwear on social media with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent to protest the acquittal of a 27-year-old Irish man accused of raping a teenage girl whose underwear was displayed as evidence during the trial.
On Nov. 6, after an hour and a half of deliberation, a jury found the defendant not guilty of raping the 17-year-old girl in a laneway in Cork, Ireland, located 260 kilometres southwest of Dublin.
The accused maintained the sexual contact between him and the girl had been consensual.
During the trial, the defendant’s senior counsel Elizabeth O’Connell held up the teenager’s underwear as evidence the girl was attracted to her client, according to a court report from the Irish Examiner.
“Does the evidence out rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone?” she asked the jury in her closing arguments. “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”
The man was found not guilty shortly after the lawyer’s remarks.
Following news of his acquittal, protests have been planned for several cities in Ireland to object to the use of the teenager’s underwear in court.
On Wednesday, the Rosa Socialist Feminist Movement held a lunchtime protest with approximately 200 participants calling for an end to “victim blaming” in the courts.
In Dublin, thongs were strung up on clotheslines outside of The Spire of Dublin monument to voice their opposition.
A day earlier, Irish MP Ruth Coppinger shared her reaction to the controversial trial by holding up a pair of blue lacy underwear in the Dail, or Irish parliament.
“It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here,” she announced. “But the reason I am doing it, how do you think a rape victim or a woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in the court?”
Coppinger also shared a photo of her underwear on Twitter using the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent in support of the trending online movement.
“I hear cameras cut away from me when I displayed this underwear in #Dail. In courts victims can have their underwear passed around as evidence and it's within the rules, hence need to display in Dail,” she tweeted on Tuesday.
I hear cameras cut away from me when I displayed this underwear in #Dáil. In courts victims can have their underwear passed around as evidence and it's within the rules, hence need to display in Dáil. Join protests tomorrow. In Dublin it's at Spire, 1pm.#dubw #ThisIsNotConsent pic.twitter.com/DvtaJL61qR— Ruth Coppinger TD (@RuthCoppingerTD) November 13, 2018
On Monday, the group “I Believe Her – Ireland” asked followers to share photos of their underwear on Twitter to express their outrage at the defence lawyer’s comments.
Counsel for man acquitted of rape suggested jurors should reflect on underwear worn by the 17yo complainant. Following this wholly unacceptable comment, we are calling on our followers to post a picture of their thongs/knickers to support her with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent pic.twitter.com/ZkVU0GVAIN— I Believe Her - Ireland (@ibelieveher_ire) November 10, 2018
The hashtag has quickly gained traction online with countless supporters taking to Twitter to share images of their own underwear.
“During a rape trial in Cork Ireland the courthouse considered relevant the underwear a girl wore before a man raped her.” #ThisIsNotConsent #IBelieveHer I buy cute undies for me!!! Not for you or anyone else!!! pic.twitter.com/9PqRX9tMlp— Hailey (@baddiegoose) November 14, 2018