Twitter accusers not above the law after rape victim name trends

Twitter accusers not above the law after rape victim name trends

Summary: Victims can be named and propagated through Twitter by people who do not think through the consequences of their actions. Fortunately the UK police are stamping out online abuse when the victim is protected by UK law.

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British footballer Ched Evans, is still being discussed on Twitter despite being sent to prison for rape last week. The footballer, who played for Sheffield United, was sentenced to five years in jail for raping a 19-year-old woman. According to the judge the woman was 'extremely intoxicated' and 'in no condition to have sexual intercourse'.

UK law grants lifelong anonymity for rape survivors. However, two days after the sentence had been passed on the footballer, the rape victim had been publicly named on Twitter. Furthermore, due to the hashtag #justiceforched she had been subjected to abuse about her drunken conduct when she was raped in May 2011.

Her name was circulated so widely that it became a trending topic on Twitter over the weekend.

Sky News inadvertently showed a screenshot of Twitter which briefly displayed the name of the rape victim. It has since apologised for its error. A Sky spokesperson said "We would like to apologise to the victim and her family for any distress caused."

The police have been proactive in bringing offenders who broadcast the victim's identity to justice. In a statement yesterday DCI Steve Williams said:

“As and when criminal offences are identified on such websites they will be dealt with robustly and arrest made if appropriate and the offenders will be brought to justice".

Today, a number of Twitter users have been arrested who are alleged to have named the 19-year-old rape victim. One of Evans' teammates Connor Brown was suspended by Sheffield United after he allegedly voiced his support by making offensive comments about the victim on Twitter.

Victims can be named and propagated through Twitter by people who do not think through the consequences of their actions. The UK police have shown that they are making steps to stamp out online abuse when the victim is protected by UK law.

As DCI Williams says:

“I would advise people who post such status and tweets to consider the implications of their action and those who add comments to appreciate that they may be condoning such behaviour and contributing to the continued trauma upon this young woman.“

Be careful what you say on Twitter and make sure that you do not say anything that you would not feel comfortable hearing said back to you in a court of law.

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8 comments
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  • Mildly interesting, not sure why it show up in ZDNet US Edition.

    There is no such overarching law in the US, accusers and accused are afforded the protections. While the media attempts to maintain anonymity for rape victims, there are few regulations as to where and when peoples' names can be disclosed. States have attempted to enact "ID shield" laws, but they have routinely been overturned by the courts.

    Unlike the UK and many other countries, the right of the citizenry to be informed of legal proceedings is considered to be integral to the promise of "justice for all."
    terry flores
    • Because some may want to know what happens outside of their front door!

      --
      Patanjali
  • Wow what a crappily-written headline.

    "Twitter accusers not above the law after rape victim's tweeted name trends"

    That's how it needs to read to be comprehensible at first read. You could even get away with just an apostrophe and the letter S:

    "Twitter accusers not above the law after rape victim's name trends"

    You'd think the British would know how to write in English.
    Geedavey
    • The perils of English

      I agree with your comment. English can be confusing (especially attempts at headlines) because of the use of nouns as adjectives without the benefit of case-specific endings, which are found in some other languages. In the illustrative example, a "house cat" is not the same as a "cat house." :)
      Biotechguy
  • (nt)

    (nt)
    croberts
  • Privacy is Dead

    Long live the Internet....Just hope it does not happen to you.
    jpr75_z
  • Justice for some

    "British footballer...is still being discussed...despite being sent to prison for rape last week. The footballer...was sentenced to five years in jail for raping a 19-year-old woman. According to the judge the woman was extremely intoxicated and in no condition to have sexual intercourse."

    There is a member of an American pro football team who has been accused of rape twice. The second victim was also a very intoxicated young woman. She was pimped by a law enforcement officer who was working off-duty acting as bodyguard for the American football player.

    The football player is still free, "married" now, and everyone in the local media wants us to forget about what he supposedly did.

    If he were only an average Joe, and not a football star, the local media would be more than eager to have him thrown in prison.

    Some people can be accused of crimes and walk away, other people would be tossed into jail for being accused of the same offense.
    sissy sue
  • Responsible

    We have a freedom of speech so make sure to use it in a right purpose
    and not to undermine other people.
    We are not aware what is happening to their life so better not to judge them.

    http://nutrendmedia.com.au/
    Bhecca2