How Protected is She? 'Fairness' and the Rape Victim Witness in Australia
35 Women’s Studies International Forum 334-342, 2012
Posted: 4 Dec 2012 Last revised: 28 Sep 2018
Date Written: 2012
How do principles or notions concerning fairness of proceedings tend to play out in Australian rape trials? We look at two types of legislative provisions pertaining to evidence in chief and cross-examination that have been altered in the last three decades in Australia. They were enacted to eliminate or minimise questions about the victims’ sexual history and/or reputation, alter what is considered proper questioning and provide procedures to better protect victim witnesses’ rights to safety. We examine what appear to be the limitations of law reform to mitigate the trauma of the trial for victims, to produce more accurate and consistent evidence and to increase prosecution and conviction rates. The implications of reducing judicial discretion in this context are also considered.
Keywords: fairness rape trials, law reform, improper questioning, judicial discretion
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation