Last week, systematic victim blaming meant that Ched Evans was found not guilty of raping a 19-year-old girl in a retrial where he was previously found guilty. Through his ‘privilege’ allowing him to buy the power of victim blaming the woman.
In this trial, the victim has been subjected to what every rape victim fears. The endless questioning of her past actions that ultimately convinced the jury of Evans’ innocence.
According to RapeCrisis UK statistics, only 15% of those who experience sexual violence report it to police and only 5.7% of those reported end in successful convictions. So for Evans to have been brought to court makes me think there was a strong amount of truth and justification for this girl to report Evans.
In the wake of the innocent ruling, the girl has been torn down as a manipulative, lying ‘slag’. With no reference to the grey area of consent this fell into – with the girl having no memory of the incident. On top of this, Evans admitted to not speaking to the girl at any point.
The crux of the case balanced upon the new key witnesses of the case that were brought in by Evans’ expensive private investigation team. The witnesses that made Evans’ lawyers enact the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence act to enable victim blaming questioning of the girl on her sexual past.
This private investigation team found since the first sentencing that the girl had had sex with two men, one in the days before the incident and one in the days after. The claims that turned this case was that one man said she insisted he ‘ripped her clothes off’ and told him to ‘go harder’. This matched the statement given by Evans that he said proved it was consensual, with the girl encouraging him to ‘go harder’ and therefore proving consent.
This was the key point which led the judge to rule that these past relationships undermined the victim’s claims and helped the jury reach the not guilty verdict.
The victim was subjected to such blatant victim blaming. She has been defined as a girl who enjoyed sex, who in coded terms was called a ‘slut’ and could by no means say no to sex.
The blame had been turned from Evans – who had sex with a very drunk girl without saying a word to her – to the woman who had woken up disorientated in a strange place with no memory of the previous night.
Evans’ chance to quash his guilty verdict and to drag the victim through the mud was based around his reputation and wealth. It gave him the ability to fund a private investigation and £50,000 rewards to any witnesses that could help. So the money and power of Evans’ side was what ultimately trumped the victim’s innocence – and her right to dignity and protection.
In the retrial, based on this new evidence, it was decided that drunk consent is still consent and therefore it was not a case of rape.
The problem is, that the concerning effects of this trial does not stop here. Evans is a professional footballer playing for the likes of Manchester City in the past and Evans’ involvement in this hyper-masculine environment creates an ultimately more damaging level to this case.
Going back to when Evans was a convicted rapist, he was allowed back at training at football club Sheffield United. This was a move widely criticised across the board, but was defended tooth and nail by many football fans.
It is these fans that responded with vitriol to the recent court findings with victim blaming rhetoric. Celebrating the innocent verdict, and how ‘they always knew’ Evans was innocent and the ‘manipulative slag’ should be either imprisoned or killed.
This alone disregards the fact that this verdict is judged around the grey area of consent, and that the girl is not lying but cannot remember due to her believing her drink was spiked. This should result in a call to detailed education on consent, and not a win against these ‘feminazis’.
This woman had a traumatic experience which resulted in her believing she had been raped, and Evans’ took advantage of a woman who he did not receive explicit consent from despite her questionable state. If it has not been ruled as rape, it was definitely a case of Evans taking advantage of a vulnerable woman – and this should be what is taken away from this. He was put on trial due to raping a woman due to his lack of knowledge and awareness around consent.
Women already fear reporting sexual crimes due to the culture of disbelief, the traumatising cross-examining and the essential witch hunt that follows them – despite being a victim.
The victim is now 24 and has had to change her name five times, after being sought out by twitter trolls who published her name online. She has received death threats and had to move away from her home, losing precious time with her mother who died recently.
In the face of all this, she was then failed by the justice system on several counts and Evans was found not guilty in the wake of her sexual past.
This case is worrying in the fact that it is a rarity that a rape case is brought to trial, let alone for a guilty verdict to be given. For that to then be quashed, and then have the victim dragged through the mud due to the power of money and reputation of the accused is only a win for rape culture.
This will give significant rise to misogyny as an example that will be drawn upon as ‘proof’ to why another rape victim could be lying. The fact that a verdict relied purely upon the victim blaming and sexual shaming of the victim, and was ultimately successful for the accused, is going to bring worrying trends in the face of rape cases.
Yet another reason for rape victims to not report their case. For the fear that their sexual history will be flagged up, they won’t be believed – and now this high-profile case gives ammunition to all those misogynist, victim blaming people who jump to shout ‘liar’.
This should not be a case that highlights ‘lying rape victims’, but one that underlines the need for consent to be clarified in more confusing situations. Consent is not always as clear cut as it is made out to be, and the responsibility falls on the person making sexual advances to clarify consent when it is not crystal clear.
Ched Evans wrongly held the power in this trial and used that to shame the victim and win the case. This will work to strengthen rape culture, when it should be seen as evidence for compulsory consent education.