Irish women around the world are protesting after comments made by barrister in rape trial

  • Irish women around the world are protesting online with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent after hearing the closing argument of a barrister in a recent rape trial in Cork
  • The protest has moved from its online platform into the real world as physical protests are starting to be formed.

Women from Ireland have began protesting with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent after a barrister in a recent rape trail claimed the victim was asking for sex because of the underwear she wore.

In her closing statement of the trial, senior counsel Elizabeth O’Connell said: “Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front,”

The jury, made up of eight men and four women, found the 27 year old defendant not guilty of raping the 17 year old girl at the Central Criminal Court in Cork.

The statement made by O’Connell alongside the verdict has caused an uproar with Irish women and has fuelled an online protest ‘#ThisIsNotConsent’ where women from all over the world are posting pictures of their underwear alongside the hashtag. The aim of this protest is to emphasise the point that what women choose to wear does not provide men with sexual consent.

The hashtag itself was created by a closed Facebook group, Mná na hEireann (Women of Ireland), but was made public by Susan Dillon, who runs the Twitter account I Believe Her, in Ireland.

Dillon said: “One of the women in the group was angry at the comments made, as we all were.

Irrespective of the other evidence… no item of the complainant’s clothing implied consent.”

The anger caused Dillon to suggest the idea of a protest against the comments made by O’Connell in her closing argument.

The protest has gained such momentum that it has moved from the online universe to the real world, with protests in Cork, Galway, Dublin and Limerick headed by the Irish feminist organisation Rosa.

Protests are taking place all over Ireland in reaction to O’Donnell’s comment in court

The movement has also made its way up to Belfast, which has recently had its own controversial rape trial verdict involving famed Ulster Rugby players. Stickers with the hashtag have been found throughout the city.

Stickers being placed around Belfast
Stickers are appearing in Belfast (Courtesy of Conall Kearney)

To see what women online have to say about the movement search #ThisIsNotConsent on Twitter and Instagram.