As day three of the 2019 Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Conference (CMJC) got under way yesterday, one presentation has shone a light on the negative implications of failing to prosecute marital rape charges on fundamental human rights.
Written by The Papua New Guinea Post-Courier
Guest speaker, Justice Kumundini Wickramasinghe from Sri Lanka, in her presentation, challenged what she described as a widely-held belief among many communities (in developed and developing nations) that marriage somehow superseded elements of a woman’s rights to autonomy. In her presentation, she said this general belief resulted in courts in many jurisdictions across the world failing to take such matters seriously to ensure that they are diligently prosecuted.
Justice Wickramasinghe made reference to research on the handling of rape trials (Cross-Examination in Rape Trials by Louise Ellison, Criminal Law Review – 1998), where it stated that a majority of victims found the experience humiliating and traumatic. She said defence lawyers were criticised for being unduly aggressive and patronising (belittling) in cross-examination, as well as asking inappropriate and insinuating questions, which Justice Wickramasinghe said, in some cases made victims flee; worse than the rape.