Many survivors say courtroom experience is 'worse' than sexual assault – victims' advocate

A victims' advocate says the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill that has its first reading this afternoon, is long overdue.

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Ruth Money spoke to TVNZ1’s Breakfast ahead of the bill’s first reading. Source: Breakfast

The bill will look at tightening the rules around evidence given in court about a complainant’s sexual history, as well as allowing victims the right to choose how they want to give evidence.

Ruth Money told TVNZ1’s Breakfast that the bill is long overdue, but it doesn’t go far enough.

“All of these suggestions came in a 2015 Law Commission report and we’re now in 2019 for the first reading,” said Ms Money.

“I have so many of my survivors who say the courtroom was worse than the rape or the sexual assault itself.

But she said the bill does look at sexual assault in a civil manner.

“Which is good. But if you look at some of the cases that happen every day in these courtrooms there needs to be more humanity full stop for all victims.

The bill will explore the idea of cross examinations of victims being prerecorded and outside of the court environment, which she said is so important.

“Mentally and physically giving evidence and being cross-examined by really officious and mean and degrading, here’s a picture of the bra you wore, defence lawyers is so archaic.

“It’s got to stop and this will allow that to change.

“We need to hurry up and pass this bill so that more people come forward.”