Harriet Wistrich, Center Of Women's Justice, Harriet discussed on Woman's Hour

Woman's Hour


Well, Harriet wistrich is the founder and director for the center of women's justice and is a solicitor and she joins me now. Harriet, let's start by just thinking about those four women who have been testifying in that New York courtroom. Today we got this sort of outpouring of relief. Just what have they been through in the past weeks? Well, and anyone who chooses to come forward to report sexual violence and anyone who eventually gets to the courtroom and we know that there are so many other women who were accusers as well who haven't participated in that trial. But for these women, going through the trial process and being subject to great scrutiny, fierce cross examination from the defense will have been incredibly tough. And it's a huge relief to them and on this occasion they have got justice. But we know that women across, well, whether they're accusing somebody famous or not, do not get a regular justice in the UK less than 1.5% of women who report rape, for example, end up with their cases charged and the trial process itself is incredibly hard. So it's incredibly tough. And it just shows how important it is that women will put themselves through this. Sometimes for years, constantly facing suspicion and their credibility being questioned in order. That is what happened in this case. I'm going to line that stood out from me was used by one of the U.S. lawyers Lisa bloom. She said that the lesson is that you do not have to be perfect to stand up for justice. All four of Maxwell's accusers endured pretty tough cross questioning. I mean, they're asked about their drug use, their sexual behavior, inconsistent statements. Is that something that all victims have to be prepared for? Well, unfortunately, that is the way in which these cases tend to be tried. And you know, it's really unfortunate that they feel like the people that are on trial themselves rather than the person they're accusing their credibility in anything that can be found to undermine their credibility. What we do know is that women who tend to be targeted and groomed will often come from more damaged backgrounds. That's why they're easier to groom often. And so there will be things that one can try and find to cross examine them on. And of course, once they've suffered abuse, often they will resort to drugs and other ways in which to survive. So the fact of the abuse itself, then works to undermine their credibility. And that's very common in many of these cases. And certainly, with young women who are trafficked, that they suffer immense damage. And that's why these convictions are so important. But it's very hard. Yeah, I wanted to ask you about something that the defense relied on. They had an expert talking about memory. She was called doctor Elizabeth Loftus. And so the implication was that when women are when people suffer from very traumatic events, they're often wrongly.

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