“It happened to me. I didn’t fit the portrayed stereotype. It was my neighbour. Not guilty in court. Yet the impact on my life is far reaching”
This is just one of the comments from someone who has signed our petition about JURIES. Yet we have lots more, examples of comments from those whose cases jumped all the hurdles to get into court, only to be let down by the myths and stereotypes that so many people have.
The JURIES Campaign wants things to change, we are challenging the Government to introduce a pre-trial briefing, that would be mandatory; to be played in court, that would challenge the pre-conceived myths and stereotypes, prior to a trial beginning. Myths and Stereotypes can already be challenged at the end of the trial, but that is too late. Some judges also may advise the jury, but there is no prescribed text, not all judges do, and no-one knows just what is said or when.
If you don’t understand or don’t know that your knowledge on rape is flawed, you won’t question it. But as rape is still very much a taboo subject, what people believe is often information gleaned from the TV or news media, and often totally inaccurate.
Take the pineapple: Many people believe it grows on a tree. Telling them it doesn’t, after you have had a discussion about pineapples isn’t going to convince someone. If they have always assumed it grows on a tree, unless you can show them, and they can see for themselves, they are very unlikely to believe it grows on a bush or on the ground. Much of what we believe about rape is assumption. Only when we set about to look at the facts do we learn the truth.
JURIES want to create a DVD that would have agreed content that addresses the most commonly held myths and stereotypes. This would be played in open court prior to every case of rape and sexual violence. It would serve to educate, jurors, barristers, judges, and court staff.
It would not be coaching, nor would it take away the need for convincing evidence. However, it would address the current bias, that has seen our conviction rate drop to one of the lowest levels, whilst also seeing the reporting rates rise.
We need support for this campaign, we can’t do it alone. But what we want to make sure is that no-one ever has to face a jury that blames a victim, or won’t convict through ignorance or assumption
Please sign our petition, which can be found here.
You can also read more about our campaign here.