Times caption: Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws said that women victims were stigmatised (JACK HILL/THE TIMES)
A piece in today’s Times by Frances Gibb, Legal Editor, and Jonathan Ames, Legal Correspondent. Emphases ours:
Judges and juries often wrongly assume that women who use online dating sites “would have sex with anyone”, one of the country’s leading human rights QCs has claimed. [J4MB: What an absurd claim, like so many feminist claims which are followed by efforts to seek or justify female privilege.]
Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, told the annual Bar conference in London that courts needed to be more aware of women’s rights and the #MeToo movement.
She also called for more sensitivity about sentencing women offenders so that judges took account of abuse and violence in their backgrounds as well as their caring responsibilities. Lady Kennedy said that judges should consider such things as whether a convicted woman was the primary carer for several children, had mental health problems or had been victimised or sexually abused. [J4MB: None of these “things” need be considered for convicted men, needless to say. Besides which, judges already take excessive account of women’s caring responsibilities, giving them a “get out of jail free” card, which women exploit shamelessly.]
The QC, author and broadcaster told delegates at the conference on Saturday that social media, with the possibility of grooming online, had brought additional burdens for women.
She said that women victims were in some cases stigmatised because of their online activity: specifically that some judges would assume that a woman using dating sites “was someone who would have sex with anyone”.
A government survey three years ago found that a third of the public generally had the view that sex attack victims bore partial responsibility for an assault if they had been “flirting heavily” with their attacker.
Lawyers and the courts had a responsibility to give women their rights, Lady Kennedy said. Otherwise, she warned, referring to the #MeToo campaign, women would take the law into their own hands. “To do justice, you have to look beyond the courtroom doors,” Lady Kennedy said. Saying that “rules are rules” and imposing the same sentence as men was not good enough, she added. [J4MB: It would be good if it happened.]
“Women are not equally looking after children or living their lives equally to men,” she said. “Many in courts are the poorest, the abused and battered.”
Lady Kennedy would not comment directly on the case of Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC, the peer facing suspension from the Lords over allegations of groping a woman and offering her a peerage in return for sex but she did say: “Procedures and due process have to be followed. If they are not there will be a backlash.” The House has voted to send back a report recommending Lord Lester’s suspension to its standards and privileges committee after most peers expressed concern that the inquiry had been “manifestly unfair”. A second vote is expected to take place.
Elsewhere at the Bar conference one of the country’s top judges said that forcing defendants to pay legal costs even when they were acquitted was unfair and not the sign of a “functioning court system”. Lord Sumption, QC, who retires from the Supreme Court next month, criticised cuts to legal aid.
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