Misstrodda målsägande i diskursiv belysning - Om synen på våldtäktsoffer i brottmålsprocessen
Sammanfattning: In public opinion, as well as in the legal system, there is a general disbelief of those who report rape. This distrust is partially founded on a reoccurring perception that women often lie when reporting crimes of sexual violence. The Swedish legal process has recently been subject to critique for holding negative perceptions about women in rape related court cases. In this study I examine if and how these ideas about women are being constructed and produced in criminal proceedings. The first half of the essay examines evidence law in criminal proceedings utilizing a legal judicial method in order to answer the essay’s first research question: if, and how, the criminal proceedings help construct a disbelief against plaintiffs? The second half of the essay examines appeal court rape verdicts, in order to see how the appeal courts construct and reproduce discourses about distrust against plaintiffs while evaluating evidence. To examine the legal system’s discursive effects, the study applies a critical discourse analysis and a gender perspective within a social constructivist approach. The theoretical approach, mainly developed by McKenzie-Mohr, examines the range of narratives available for women speaking out about their experiences of rape. In turn, these narratives affect how society perceive stories about rape as credible and legitimate. This study aims to identify what remains of these narratives in a Swedish legal context and how they affect the current view on women’s character and their ability to be truthful. The first part of the study examines legal rules and governing principles in the criminal proceedings in a chronological order, from report to the court’s verdict. Here, some problematic aspects of the proceedings are examined. The most significant of these occur during the initial stage of the process, including distrust against rape victims when reporting to the police, the hearing of character evidence during the main hearings, and the influence of judges’ subjectivity during the evaluation of evidence. In the discursive study, I analyse how procedural and evidence law enables a distrustful attitude towards the plaintiff in order to uphold the rule of law. Whether the plaintiff appears truthful is the central question in the evaluation of evidence. This legitimizes an evaluation of the plaintiffs’ statements which construct the plaintiff as a suspicious and inadequate subject. In this manner the legal construction in evaluation of evidence appears to construct a harmful and one-sided image of the plaintiff, which further produces a distrust against rape victims.
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