This is how social media is being used against women in rape cases
Are you ready for something that you said on Facebook to be used against you in court?
A trend that's gaining traction inside courtrooms is the sharing of private conversations and status updates being used in trials surrounding rape allegations.
Legal teams are gaining access to complainant’s social media and attempting to catch them out based on what they post to Facebook and Twitter.
Vice Canada has reported on the story of how two high-profile sexual harassment cases came down to scrutinising past Facebook comments.
In one particular case, Stephanie Stella saw her case of sexual assault defeated after the accused’s legal team found that she posted an article about consent a day after the alleged incident happened.
(image via Facebook)
Speaking to VICE she said: “I posted it on my Facebook with the note, ‘I think the world is due for a timely reminder about consent'."
A year and a half later at the trial this was used as evidence against Stephanie, and the accused, Di Yang, was acquitted. Ontario court justice Leslie Chapin said:
“The fact that [Stella] did look up articles about consent when she was home leads me to think that there was some genuine confusion on her part as to whether or not she was consenting”
Another point brought against Stella was a comment she posted on Facebook which reads, “when a woman says ‘no’, it is the beginning of a negotiation.”
Although this was not the only reason that the case was dismissed it is worrying to think that we are being made held accountable for the oftentimes random and spur-of-the moment content we post on the social networking site.
In another case, in which York University PhD student Mustafa Ururyar was convicted of raping fellow student Mandi Gray, we see how the defendant's legal team attempted to use Gray’s social media presence against her.
Under cross examination during the trial, Mandi Gray was accused of using rape allegations to further her own agenda, because she posted on Twitter that the trial was a "rape circus".
“And this was going to be perfect for your agenda, correct?” the defence lawyer asked. "Your agenda to show how the criminal justice system doesn’t work for sexual assault victims”.
Another story surrounding the alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl was thrown out of court because the credibility of the victim was questioned, as she had initially denied that she smoked weed and drank, but her Facebook said otherwise.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg in many ways. When we post on Facebook or Twitter we never consider how this may impact us in the future.
In the era of ‘fakebook’ where people tend to over exaggerate everything, how can we prove that people even believe what they write as opposed to them just posting for likes?