Belfast Telegraph

Irish politician holds up thong in parliament in protest

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger raised the issue of ‘rape myths’.

A politician has held up a pair of thong underpants in the Irish parliament chamber to protest against the treatment of alleged rape victims in court.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger raised the issue of “rape myths” after one jury in a recent case was asked to consider the fact that the complainant was wearing a thong at the time of the alleged assault.

While holding up the underwear she said: “It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here in this incongruous of the Dail. But the reason I’m doing it: how do you think a… woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in a court?

“How heroic do you have to be Taoiseach (Prime Minister), to pursue a rape trial in this country?” she asked.

The question to the Irish leader comes just days after a social media campaign was sparked by the case in which a female solicitor referenced the alleged victim’s underwear to the jury.

Twitter users began posting pictures of their underwear online, with the hashtag #Thisisnotconsent, which quickly went viral both in Ireland and abroad.

Protests are to be held in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, Belfast and Cork throughout the week due to the support for the social media campaign.

Fiona Ryan, one organiser, said the case was endemic of what is currently wrong with how the justice system treats alleged victims of sexual assault.

“It’s absolutely appalling,” she said.

“This case and the particular awfulness of what was said is endemic in our judiciary system and it’s par for the course, it’s actually very regular to see this type of thing be brought up in any case of sexual violence, particularly sexual violence against women.

“We decided to call this rally not just specifically about this case, but calling for an end to victim-blaming in courts.

“This is really a demand for systemic change for people, particularly women, but every victim of sexual violence, to get a fair hearing. We can’t wait any longer.

“It’s indicative of the huge amount of anger there, not just about this court case, but this symbolises the problems that are inherent in the system.

“The international solidarity that’s been extended to these awful cases when they’re exposed will go a long way towards pushing for genuine legal change, and unfortunately that comes from above, but we’re going to push from below to ensure it happens now.”

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