From "Real Rape" to Real Justice
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Despite significant reform over the last 30 years, little real change has resulted to the incidence of sexual violence, conviction rates for sexual offending, or the distressing impact of prosecution experienced by complainants. High penalties for sexual offending, particularly sexual violation, affect decisions by complainants in reporting offending and defendants in admitting offending behaviour.
Following a statement by the Law Commission that there would be value in an investigation of modification or replacement of the adversarial trial model in sexual cases, the study reported in this book set out to undertake that investigation. In doing so, the researchers analysed published material from 20 jurisdictions; consulted with criminal justice professionals, academics and those who work with victims of sexual offending; and undertook an ‘on the ground’ examination of the dynamics of investigation and trial in five civil law jurisdictions. Recommendations for reform focus on the criminal justice processes in sexual cases, including the investigation of allegations of sexual assault; appropriate means of involvement and provision of information for complainants; evidential rules; attending to the effects of high penalties on decisions by complainants and defendants; and the role of the decision-maker in defended trials.
Rather than advocating for a simple wholesale move to an “inquisitorial” model, the need for a range of responses to sexual offending is demonstrated, with recommendations for alternative justice processes and a focus on treatment for offenders.
Elisabeth McDonald is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
Yvette Tinsley is a Reader in the Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.
This book is the result of research partially funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation.