Powerful reason women are tweeting pictures of their underwear

Women have tweeted pictures of underwear in solidarity for a teenage rape victim shamed in court for her choice of underwear, which apparently implied “consent”.

Protests both on social media and through the streets of Ireland followed after a defence lawyer held up a pair of a 17-year-old girl’s underwear in court during the trial that acquitted a man accused of raping her.

Attorney Elizabeth O’Connell reportedly asked the court: “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”

Hundreds of protesters have marched through Irish cities after a defence lawyer used an alleged rape victim’s choice of underwear to argue the teenage girl had consented to sex. Source: Getty.

She was representing a 27-year-old man who was found not guilty of raping the teenager earlier this month.

Ms O’Connell’s comments, as reported by the Irish Examiner and other local outlets, caused immediate outrage, with Dublin Rape Crisis Centre demanding legal reforms over those types of comments being allowed in court.

“These kind of mythologies and stereotypes around rape come up again and again in court cases, because the defence to rape is that the sex was consensual,” Rape Crisis chief executive Noeline Blackwell told the Irish Independent newspaper.

“So anything the defendant can do to suggest there was consent will be used.”

People gather for a protest in support of victims of Sexual violence on O’Connell Street, Dublin. Source: Niall Carson/PA Wire via Getty

In the days following the trial, women gathered in the streets of Ireland to protest how the teen’s case was handled, sparking the campaign group I Believe Her to start an online movement  #ThisIsNotConsent.

Using the hashtag, hundreds of women joined the cause, sharing pictures of lacy knickers and G-strings on social media to send a message that underwear doesn’t imply consent.

Many of the posts argued that using the teen’s underwear in court was “victim blaming.”

Underwear issue a hot topic in Irish parliament

The movement became noticed by Irish politician Ruth Coppinger, who held up a pair of underwear in the chamber to make a point about the rape case.

Ruth Coppinger holds up lacy underwear in parliament to demonstrate how uncomfortable the rape victim might have felt in court. Source: Irish Parliament

“It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here,” Ms Coppinger said.

“How do you think a rape victim or a woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in a court?”

Responding to the movement Susan Dillon, who started the #ThisIsNotConsent hashtag, said clothing did not imply not consent.

“We wanted something impactful that would draw attention to the issue hence the use of underwear,” she told BuzzFeed News.

“We knew people would be supportive and would want to support survivors of sexual violence but we have been overwhelmed by the response.”

The movement cones after the hashtag #IBelieveHer went global following the acquittal of two rugby players accused of rape in Ireland.