A young girl’s hesitation and humiliation to give evidence after she was raped by three men has resulted in Supreme Court Judge, Justice Richard Chetwynd suggesting the establishment of a victim support body.
In a recent rape case judgment issued at Loltong, Pentecost, Justice Chetwynd stated that sometimes it is difficult to follow the victim’s evidence.
Being the victim of a gang rape by three men who were later found guilty, the victim was embarrassed hence the Supreme Court Judge suggested that assistance for victims could be something to consider for such cases by court users.
“Raped all over again” is how a rape victim described how she feels telling the story as evidence before the court.
This was reported by The Guardian when a rape victim testified in Australia, her experience in the witness box left her feeling violated. She killed herself within days.
A young village girl asked to tell how she was raped to a court full of people she knows surely must feel similar, if not worst.
According to the Judge, the victim in the Pentecost case was softly spoken and it was even difficult for the interpreter sitting next to her to hear what she was saying.
“Her evidence was also given in a very hesitant manner,” said Justice Chetwynd.
“She was clearly embarrassed in having to tell the intimate details of the incident to the court.
“I understand the pressure on a young woman giving evidence in open court about intimate sexual matters.
“This is especially so in a small community such as Loltong where the complainant knows everyone in the court, bar professionals, and everyone knows her.”
Justice Chetwynd said that in such cases, a victim support adviser would be of great assistance.
“A complainant/witness in a case such as this could be given advice and information on the court processes and what to expect when giving evidence,” he stated.
“Perhaps a victim support body is something that all court users might like to consider and/or they might like to make a contribution to the cost that would be involved.”
An application by the prosecution to clear the court was granted by the Supreme Court Judge on understanding that it is in the interest of decency and to protect the victim so she can give evidence away from the pressures of doing so in public.
“Whilst section 26 of the Criminal Procedure Code requires a court to be open and accessible to the public, it also recognises that there are circumstances when the public should be excluded,” he stated.
The three men involved were all charged with one count of sexual intercourse and one count of an act of indecency. They all pleaded not guilty.
They all admitted to have sexual intercourse with the complainant but claimed it was consented to.
“What is clear from the complainant’s evidence is that she was certain that at no time did she consent to sexual intercourse with any of the defendants,” Justice Chetwynd stated.
According to the judgment, the young men were probably drunk after consuming home brew and most certainly under the influence of alcohol, and raped the complainant one after the other. They were all found guilty of sexual intercourse without consent. Two of them were also convicted of an act of indecency.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST