Where Next? Conclusions and Considerations for the Future of Rape Justice

  • Olivia Smith


A summary of the book’s key arguments will follow, but first I note the sense of a Sisyphean struggle for reform, as highlighted by McGlynn (2010), throughout. My findings show evidence of clear improvements on Lees’ (1997) observations, but some problems have also remained stubbornly consistent in the intervening 20 years. For example, barristers and judges now demonstrate awareness of the realities of rape and empathise with survivors, but they retain the sense that survivors are collateral damage in the justice process. Similarly, there have been wide-ranging restrictions on the use of sexual history since Lees’ work, and yet Chap.  4 revealed these restrictions being diluted to the point that they no longer presented any barrier to such evidence. Defence tactics also remain strikingly familiar, with both Lees’ (1997) work and my own observations showing how survivors are placed ‘on trial’ rather than the accused. This is mirrored in New Zealand research by Zydervelt, Zajac, Kaladelfos, and Westera (2016), which found that lawyers’ strategies for cross-examination had barely changed since the 1950s despite social and legal reforms (see also Stern, 2010, on the UK context).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivia Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesAnglia Ruskin UniversityCambridgeUK

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