People are using the hashtag #IBelieveHer in response to the acquittal of two Irish rugby players who were accused of raping a student in 2016. The reaction is aimed at criticizing the way rape and assault cases are handled by the justice system.
According to a report by BuzzFeed News, the players, Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, were accused of raping a 19-year-old at a party in 2016. The woman testified in a courtroom in Belfast that she shared consensual kissing with Jackson, but asked him to stop when he tried to take off her clothes. After the alleged incident took place, the survivor went to a sexual assault referral clinic where a doctor reported that she presented genital injuries.
In response to the accusations, the defense claimed that the woman was lying because she “regretted having group sex.” The men were found not guilty and let go. “I want to acknowledge that the complainant went to court and gave evidence as to her perception of those events,” a statement from Olding, read by his lawyer, states. “I am sorry the hurt that was caused to the complainant. It was never my intention to cause any upset to anyone on that night. I don’t agree with her perception of events and I maintain that everything that happened that evening was consensual.”
Following the trial, people on Twitter began using the hashtag #IBelieveHer to show thier support.
Meanwhile some have criticized the hashtag, arguing that the trial was fair.
Though the case took place in Northern Ireland, the hashtag has spread beyond its borders to uplift the voices of women who have suffered from sexual assault and violence without receiving justice in the courtroom.