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This is why Harriet Harman wants to stop rape complainants being questioned on their sexual history:

(Posted on 31/01/18)

"I think what you have here is a battle between the actual reality that women are facing and those who are seeking to defend the system in a way which is completely indefensible," Harman told Emily Ashton of BuzzFeed News.

The former Labour solicitor general described the backlash on Twitter as "really disappointing" and warned that women were being forced to give evidence that "was nothing to do with the case in hand" but about "smearing [their] character".

Harman joined with Dame Vera Baird, also a former solicitor general who is now Northumbria police and crime commissioner, in parliament on Monday to hear from representatives of sexual violence support services about what can be done.

They are leading calls for reform of section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, which is supposed to protect alleged victims by limiting barristers' ability to raise women's previous sexual history in court.

The defence must make an application to the judge if they intend to use someone's sexual history in court.

Research commissioned by Baird found that lawyers used sexual history as evidence in more than a third of rape cases that were observed over the course of 18 months at Newcastle crown court – although the methodology of the research has been strongly criticised.

The sexual history of complainants was questioned in 11 out of 30 rape trials at Newcastle crown court between January 2015 and June 2016, according to the report.

But the cross-party campaign was met with scepticism and even dismay from some lawyers who poured scorn on Baird's research and raised fears that restricting what evidence can be heard in court could create miscarriages of justice.

from BuzzFeed News, 29/1/18