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  • Writer's pictureWJO

Prohibiting defendants from derogatory submissions on victims' sexual behaviours in court

In sexual-related offences and in most crimes where the woman is a defendant, the woman’s sexual proclivity and behaviours (whether the woman is a victim, witness or a defendant in the case) becomes the subject of the trial.

There have been many cases where defendants have made lengthy oral submissions on a victim or witnesses’ sexual proclivity and behaviour, using offensive and derogatory language, unbefitting of court decorum, and violating victims’ Article 6 (CPC) rights to personal dignity and honour.

The State should prohibit questions and submissions on women’s sexual behaviours and their appearances if the said questions and submissions do not relate to the charge.

Such questions should only be permissible where they are clearly relevant to a material question of fact and even in those cases, they must be strictly limited in scope to the relevant facts. Defendants and their counsel should also be warned to frame their questions meticulously to ensure they are not unduly intrusive. In certain cases, defendants should be required to submit their questions to the court beforehand for approval.

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