Mullings Lauds Section of Legislation Which Downplays Sexual History of Rape Victims


Minister of Energy, Clive Mullings, has lauded the aspect of the Sexual Offences Act, which provides that the sexual history of a complainant in a rape lawsuit, should not take prominence in court.
Mr. Mullings, who was making his contribution to the debate on the legislation in the House of Representatives yesterday (Feb. 10), said that there have been cases where the sexual history of complainants were brought to centre stage to discredit them. “It’s to say that this person, by virtue of this checkered sexual history, cannot be relied upon, or the issue of consent is not one that should bother a judge, because the complainant is given to consent anyway,” he pointed out.
He noted that with this legislation, the sexual history of a complainant can only be brought to the fore with the leave of a judge. “What the legislation is also saying is that the judge still has that discretion…(what) the court has been saying is whether the probative value of it outweighs any prejudicial consequences…the legislation takes account of that and is seeking to put to bed, this kind of assertion by counsel,” he pointed out.
Turning to the provision that speaks to the anonymity of the complainant, Mr. Mullings suggested that the Attorney General and the Chief Justice look into having a protocol to ensure that the identity of victims of rape are protected.
“Sometimes, in a Resident Magistrate’s Court, the first time a case is called up, the complainant comes to court… to the steady gaze of the public. We have to ensure that here is a protocol to prevent that happening, because the horse would have already bolted,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mullings stressed the importance of technology in solving such cases, including DNA evidence, and pointed to the need for companion legislation to address this issue.
According to Mr. Mullings “for too long, eyewitness evidence has been heavily relied on. It is now time to utilise scientific evidence. The legislation creates an opportunity to ensure that we don’t rely overly on the human involvement for the proof of a case,” he told colleague members.
“As we seek to bring everything within the rubric of the Sexual Offences Act…we must guard against having prosecutions hamstrung by not having the appropriate companion legislation, to ensure that justice is done,” he stated further.
The Sexual Offences Act 2008, seeks to bring under one umbrella, the various laws relating to rape, incest and other sexual offences and repeals the Incest (Punishment) Act and several provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act, relating to rape and other sex crimes.

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