#ThisIsNotConsent: How an Irish rape trial led to women sharing photos of their underwear

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter a 27-year-old man in Ireland was acquitted of rape charges based on the teen survivor’s thong, women around the world have been sharing images of their underwear on social media with the hashtag ‘#ThisIsNotConsent’.

The Irish Examiner reported that on November 6, the criminal court in the city of Cork declared the defendant “not guilty”of raping a 17-year-old. During the rape trial, a defence lawyer held up the teenager’s underwear in court and told the jury: “Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front.”

A jury of eight men and four women let the accused man off.

Following the trial, a viral campaign saw women posting images of their own underwear on social media, with the hashtag #ThisIsNotConsent.

Irish politician Ruth Coppinger took her protest to Dail Eireann, the lower house of the parliament, where she held up a black lace thong to highlight “routine victim-blaming”. She produced the lacy underwear from her sleeve and shared a photo on Twitter.

“I hear cameras cut away from me when I displayed this underwear in #Dail. In courts victims can have their underwear passed around as evidence and it’s within the rules, hence need to display in Dail,” wrote Coppinger.

The hashtag was created by a closed Facebook group called Mna na hEireann (Women of Ireland).

Susan Dillon, a member of the group who also runs the Twitter account I Believe Her – Ireland, spread the word further.

Dillon said: “One of the women in the group was angry at the comments made, as we all were.”

Protests now being held across the country – in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, Belfast and Cork – to support the social media campaign. Check out some tweets below: