AAP is a newswire service that sends reports out to all major news outlets. They do a lot of court reporting.

This is an example of a common theme – quoting defence lawyers in headlines that obscure the alleged crime and alleged victim.

This man is accused of abusing his position as a policeman to grope and rape a young woman who came to him to report that someone was threatening to share naked images of her online. She later told him that an ex-boyfriend had sexually assaulted her. The prosecution alleges he repeatedly offered her money for sex, groped her, and then raped her.

“I expect she will tell you she did not feel she could leave because he was a police officer,” the prosecutor told the court.

With all this information, AAP chose to headline the article by misnaming an allegation of rape as “sex” and a claim from the defendant.

This is a choice.

The man is still on trial and it would be sub judice contempt to call him a rapist or prejudge a guilty or not guilty finding.

However, as the original headline demonstrates, journalists can quote what lawyers say in court.

In all my years of monitoring media reporting of men’s violence against women, I have rarely seen victims or prosecutors quoted in headlines. It’s almost always the defendant or his lawyer, often without even attributing it to the defence.

Our legal system has pretty much decriminalised rape.

In 2017, I wrote an article for news.com.au (I know, I know, but we all have to pay bills and to their credit they did publish it) showing that around 3% of reported rapes ended in a conviction. That rate hasn’t changed much in seven years.

Media and legal structures protect violent men – at least they do when those men hurt women.

We need alternatives that can protect women without diminishing the principles of natural justice.

We’ve made our own alternatives to the media. Maybe it’s time we look for alternatives to the legal system too.

Please keep in mind that this trial is still going on. Any comments prejudging a guilty or not guilty verdict could give the defendant reason to claim a mistrial. Only the court has the right to judge whether or not he is guilty.

Want to know more? Buy the FixedIt book direct from my website: www.JaneGilmore.com/books

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron

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Books by Jane Gilmore

Fairy Tale Princesses Will Kill Your Children

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