The Federation Press

Balancing the Scales

Rape, law reform and Australian culture


The past two decades have seen a succession of reforms to sexual assault laws in all Australian jurisdictions. This book examines how effective these reforms have been in light of the fact that such changes challenge the ’traditional’ social norms of the legal system: male dominance, acceptability of male violence and women’s responsibility for male violence.

Has a better balance been struck between the rights of victims to protection, assistance and compensation and the rights of accused to a fair trial and preservation of the presumption of innocence? And what still remains to be done? These and many other questions are those explored by the contributors.

Table of Contents

The cultural context of rape and reform
Patricia Easteal

Disputed truths: Australian reform of the sexual conduct elements of common law rape
Mary Heath

Constructing lack of consent
Bernadette McSherry

The rules of recent complaint: Rape myths and the legal construction of the “reasonable” rape victim
Simon Bronitt

“You should scrutinise her evidence with great care”: Corroboration of women’s testimony about sexual assault
Kathy Mack

Rape victims on trial: Regulating the use and abuse of sexual history evidence
Terese Henning and Simon Bronitt

Tipping the scales in her favour: The need to protect counselling records in sexual assault trials
Annie Cossins

Rape in marriage: Has the license lapsed?
Patricia Easteal

Heroines of fortitude
Pia van de Zandt

Sexual offence prosecutions: A barrister’s perspective
Ian Freckelton

Character, credit, context: Women’s lives, judicial “reality”
Jocelynne Scutt

Sentencing for rape
Kate Warner

Compensating the sexually assaulted
Ian Freckelton

Beyond balancing
Patricia Easteal

Table of cases
Table of statutes

Of interest...