Women in Ireland were outraged after a verdict of “not guilty” was handed to a 27-year-old man in a case where his defense lawyer relied on the kind of underwear a 17-year-old victim was wearing in order to convince a jury he was innocent.
In response, they’ve started a movement online, posting images of their underwear and including “#ThisIsNotConsent” in their posts, per reporting from CNN.
The defense lawyer for the accused man included in her closing arguments a description of the teen victim’s thong underwear, citing it as something to consider while the jury deliberated their verdict.
“Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone?” defense lawyer Elizabeth O’Connell asked. “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”
The jury found the man not guilty. Women in Ireland took to the streets, holding demonstrations in Dublin, Limerick, and Cork on Wednesday, with an additional protest planned for Friday in Waterford, according to NBC News.
Many of the women during the protest held up their underwear while marching in the streets. Women from around the world who couldn’t attend the marches in person joined the movement with “#ThisIsNotConsent,” posting their underwear online in solidarity.
Demonstrators in Ireland had plenty to say about the verdict as well.
“We had hoped that as a society we had moved on from these archaic, victim-blaming rape myths,” said Susan Dillon, who set up the Facebook group “I Believe Her – Ireland.”
Rita Harold, another woman who was at one of the protests on the streets of Ireland, denounced cultural requirements that seemed to blame what clothes women wore rather than the actions of those who committed sexual assault or rape.
“This culture that tells us we have to keep ourselves safe, we have to wear conservative clothes, we can’t go to certain places is a culture that tolerates rape and blames victims. We won’t take it anymore,” Harold said.
The trial captivated those who were following it on both sides in Ireland. In addition to the use of underwear as evidence for the man’s innocence, the defense supplied racy text messages from the teen girl to provide proof that there was consent in her actions.
But based on the teen’s accounts, text messages seem of little consequence. The victim claimed that the defendant met her out at a club. After they met, she alleged he got more violent, dragging her through mud and having sex with her even after she told him to stop, according to reporting from the Washington Post.