Dublin, Nov 14: A unique protest is currently underway in Ireland. While a woman politician of the country recently waved a pair of black laced underwear in the parliament (Dail), other women have also taken to posting pictures of their own underwear on the Internet and even rallies are being held around the country.
Why is this protest happening?
It is all related to a rape case in the city of Cork in south-west Ireland in which the accused person's lawyer told the jury that the complainant, a 17-year-old, was wearing a thong. The defence counsel told the jury to take into consideration the way the woman was dressed. It was said that she was "open to meeting someone" because she was "wearing a thong with a lace front".
The politician who brandished the underwear, Ruth Coppinger of Solidarity - People Before Profit, expressed concern over the fact that a 17-year-old was "put in the dock for her choice of underwear and she was open to meeting someone was the implication, she was asking for it."
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
She said the women of Ireland were anxious over the routine victim-blaming taking place in the Irish courts and also the failure of lawmakers to tackle it.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also said that the issue was a concern for the people of the country and a review was underway to see if improvements could be made in sexual violence trial procedures.
The accused in the case who denied raping the woman was acquitted by the jury of eight men and four women at the Central Criminal Court.
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/ZkVU0GVAINI Believe Her - Ireland (@ibelieveher_ire) November 10, 2018
However, people were upset. Protest rallies were organised in Ireland over the counsel's reference to the girl's underwear to justify the incident and a protest movement was also seen on the social media under the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent.
Eight months ago, Ireland saw a similar protest as people spoke against the 'Belfast rugby rape trial' which saw Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding found not guilty of rape at a trial in 2016.