Women take to the streets of Dublin in their underwear to demand rape trial reform

A campaigner who has started a daily walk through Dublin in only lingerie to demand rape trial reform has vowed not to stop until she gets 50 more people joining her to force law change.

Wearing prominent body paint, Stacie Ellen Murphy, 26, expressed delight that two other women in underwear – Alanna Cassidy and Lena Seale – joined her on Thursday to walk along busy shopping streets in the city.

Ms Murphy’s protest is linked to the controversy around a recent case in Co Cork, where a defence barrister referred to the 17-year-old complainant’s thong during a trial, in which a man was acquitted of rape.

It has sparked an intense public and political debate in Ireland on whether it is appropriate to place relevance on what an alleged victim was wearing during sex crime trials and whether there is culture of victim blaming.

There were protests in cities and towns across Ireland earlier this month, during which thongs and placards were held aloft with the words “this is not consent”.

The case also sparked a popular social media campaign with women from the island and abroad posting pictures of their underwear with the hastag #thisisnotconsent.

Dubliner Ms Murphy, who attracted cheers, hugs but also some negative comments from onlookers as she braved bitter temperatures on Thursday, said she wanted to lead a march of 50 people in their underwear to the gates of the Dail in a bid to force law changes in how trials are conducted.

“I not going to be stopping until I get a change,” she said.

“Until it’s talked about in the Dail. Until I get to the Dail. Until changes are made.

“I’m not going to stop until I’ve a crowd of 50 people walking toward me every single day doing this walk, until there’s a change in the judicial system about underwear being brought up in a case or court trial.”

On Monday, Ms Murphy went to the courts in Dublin wearing her lingerie and hugged a rape victim on the steps outside after the jailing of her attacker.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he has commissioned an “eminent person” to examine the rules around evidence in the courts.

“Whether you are a man or a woman, if you are a victim of rape or sexual assault, you are never to blame for it,” he said at the weekend.

“It doesn’t matter what you wear, where you go, who you go with or whether you have taken alcohol or drugs – no one asks to be raped.”

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