Anger in New Zealand at ‘close your legs’ rape defence

Anger in New Zealand at ‘close your legs’ rape defence
Teenagers are more likely to be depressed if their mothers were depressed while pregnant, according to a new study.- Reuters

WELLINGTON - Victims' rights advocates in New Zealand on Thursday condemned a defence lawyer who told a rape victim she should have "closed her legs" if she wanted to avoid having sex.

Defence lawyer Keith Jefferies made the remarks when summing up at the trial of his client, a nightclub bouncer who was convicted of rape in Wellington District Court on Wednesday, the Dominion Post reported.

The newspaper said the 20-year-old woman was drunk in the central business district when the bouncer, George Pule, approached her and told her that he could get her into a nightclub where her friends were socialising.

Instead he led her down an alley and raped her, although Jefferies said the victim did not struggle or cry out.

"All she would have had to do was to close her legs... it's as simple as that," the newspaper quoted him as saying in his closing arguments.

"Why didn't she do that? The reason she didn't do that was because the sex was consensual, as easy as that."

Natalie Gousmett from the Wellington Rape Crisis Centre said the remarks were "horrific" and attempted to shift the blame for sexual assault onto the victim.

She said the case, and the so-called "Roastbusters" controversy - which involved a group of Auckland youths boasting online about having group sex with underage girls - had thrown a spotlight on attitudes to sexual assault in New Zealand.

"It is an example of victim-blaming comments and rape culture, which we've seen all too much in the last week and a half," she said.

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