New Sex Violence Bill
An interesting critique of the new Sex Violence bill by a QC:
One thing the proposed new law seems to do is make it more difficult for a woman’s relationship history to be brought up in court.
Fair enough, you might say – obviously there’s a danger of someone’s past behaviour being used against them unfairly or irrelevantly.
In fact, I did see a defence of the new bill in Stuff recently – I can’t seem to find it again now – stressing that past relationship history would only be deemed inadmissible if it was irrelevant.
One worry I have is that there does seem to be a trend to edit out relationship history that any reasonable person would deem relevant.
See, for example, this alarming exposé of an article in The Spinoff, which described an encounter in terms that suggested assault while – astonishingly – leaving out the fact the two people involved had been in a relationship for eight months.
My conclusion is that there are good grounds to be worried that the irrelevancy test will be used by unscrupulous individuals to prevent men from bringing very relevant evidence (evidence that might quite justifiably acquit them) into a case.
Obviously marital rape can happen, but it should be equally obvious that someone who’s in a relationship with a woman (or even has a history of dating or flirting with her) might have a better reason to think his advances will be desired and reciprocated than a stranger.
Think about a man going up to a woman on the street and giving her a kiss. Outrageous. What if you then find out it’s his girlfriend? Completely normal. What’s the difference? You got it – past relationship history.