Unpacking The Victim Blaming Defence In The Latest SMU Sexual Assault Case

And yet another university sexual assault case. The script seems to repeat itself with changes in some variables—the assailant is a different guy, and NUS has been swapped out for SMU.

2020 alone has seen an alarming litany of campus sexual assault cases. But this one deserves special attention because of his lawyers’ defence—one which may influence how we talk about sexual violence.

Lee Yan Ru’s lawyer will have us believe that he is not guilty for two primary reasons. The first is alleged inconsistencies between the victim’s accounts in court and elsewhere. Second and more damning, he claims that she willingly engaged in “playful banter” with Lee, which he implies rendered her somehow deserving of the following assault. He argued that Lee’s innocence will rest on his ability to prove both those things.

But he’s missing the point entirely. Whether or not either of those things are true does not matter. Both are distractions from the crux of the case, and even if true, neither will make him less guilty.

Let’s address the first charge of inconsistency. In her cross-examination, Lee’s lawyer sought to poke holes in the victim’s account of their interactions, grilling her over minute details about things that had happened before the assault. We should not be interested in whether or not her account in court was consistent with her account elsewhere. We should be even less interested in demanding an explanation for that inconsistency if it is true.

Trauma is private and personal, and is processed by all differently. We have different ways of shielding ourselves from harsh and unsolicited judgment. Most of us don’t do it with the simultaneous burden of having to prove that an act of sexual violence committed against us is wrong.

More at https://www.domainofexperts.com/2020/10/unpacking-victim-blaming-defence-in.html