Re-framing the rape trial: insights from critical theory about the limitaitons of legislative reform
Through a close reading of a rape trial, this article discusses the seemingly intractable problem of the disconnect between rape law reform and the resilience of outdated common law practices being used in the courtroom. It is argued that certain requirements (the location of the event; a focus on resistance and the presence of injuries; recent complaint; and the underlying assumption of the untrustworthiness of the complainant) form a ‘rape schema’ which operate to distinguish the ‘true’ from the ‘false’ complaint of rape. Finally, this article turns to the insights of critical theory to think about how concepts of ‘readability’, intentionality and the performance of embodied knowledge by legal subjects might enable us to intervene differently in order to achieve justice for rape victims.
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