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Consent

January 22, 2007

Bit of a weird one last night. Being a bit interested in The Law and that, I settled down to watch Consent (CH4, 10pm) where a real rape trial was conducted with actors playing the parts of the defendant, the complainant, their co-workers and friends. All legal representatives, bailiffs, judges and jury were real people (they even selected the jury at random from the electoral register). Two co-workers get drunk at a party, go into the girl’s room and then start kissing. Then it cuts to the next day when the girl is acting strange and later she claims she was raped. We follow both characters as the girl has a rape examination and makes her police statement, and the guy is arrested and makes his. Then it cuts to the trial.

Thing is, because there were actors, the first bit felt more like a drama to me. Then when the jury went out to deliberate it felt like a fly-on-the-wall documentary (because they were real people). I just wasn’t sure what the programme was trying to be…

Throughout the trial I more or less sided with the defendant. The evidence suggested that it would have been pretty difficult to conduct rape in the situation (and positions) the complainant was describing (for example she said that he managed to get her knickers off with one hand, whilst getting his todger out *and* holding her by the throat). Plus, she claimed she was struggling with him, but there wasn’t a mark on him. Anyway, it was all very graphic and embarrassing to listen to the various accounts of what happened, but I think the programme makers were trying to get the viewers to side with the defendant.

Most of the jury weren’t sure of the claimant’s story either and in the end, they found the defendant not guilty. Then, just before the credits, it cut to a flashback of what actually happened – and he did rape her after all. God, I felt awful; horrified and a bit sick really. Anyway, it wasn’t the best thing to watch before bed and I’m really not sure what the point of the programme was. If they obviously manipulated the viewer into thinking he didn’t rape her, then they can’t take the moral high ground when showing that he did. Was it a drama, was it a fly-on-the-wall? Was it a valuable insight into our county’s legal system? Was it questioning the notion of consent?

I don’t know. But if anyone’s reading this who has just selected me for jury service, I’d advise you to drop me now. I am obviously not a good person to judge!

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