Court process for dealing with sexual assault cases needs overhaul, says law expert

Source: Breakfast

A law academic says court processes around sexual assault cases needs to be changed as "it's really awful" and "stereotypical".

Waikato University law lecturer Paulette Benton-Greig told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, "I think we need to really look hard at why we are still willing to accept what is still a really awful process.

"It’s so awful that people know that it is awful [the court process] and then they don’t report to police… … we have an access to justice problem."

She says courts should review how questioning of sexual assault victims is carried out.

"There should be rules that prevent people from making the kinds of suggestions that are stereotypical and have false ideas about woman and men and sex."

Ms Benton-Greig also says the laws around giving consent for sex when intoxicated need to be looked at.

"It looks to us that those victims [of sexual assault while intoxicated] are kind of in a difficult and almost impossible position," she says.

"When they’re asked questions like - 'isn’t it possible that you don’t remember giving consent?' - this is an impossible situation for her to be in because the only credible answer to a question like that is, yes I guess it's possible because we can’t know what the impossible is."

She says then the jury have to accept there was possible consent even though the victim was too drunk to remember.

Ms Benton-Greig says the courts should also look at moving to a judge alone or judge lead decision making process because currently, "the laws almost having the opposite affect of what it was intended to do".