11 Apr 2018

Rugby rape trial reveals toxic culture of male entitlement

The trial of two Irish rugby players accused of raping a 19-year-old student, and their subsequent acquittal, has dominated headlines in Ireland for more than 10 weeks.

Ciara Kenny
Ciara Kenny The Irish Times, Ireland
Source: The Irish Times
Rugby rape trial reveals toxic culture of male entitlement - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Almost two weeks since the verdict, commentators are still dissecting the trial, most particularly the Whatsapp messages sent between the men and their friends in the days following the alleged incident.

“Any sluts get f**ked?” asked one. “There was a bit of spit roasting going on last night fellas.” “Why are we all such legends?”

The trial has shone a harsh light on the toxic culture of sexual entitlement held towards women by some men. It has uncovered deep-held misogyny in certain corners of male professional sport, particularly rugby.

The case has also raised questions about consent, respect and the right to say no, as well as the importance of educating young people, now growing up with easy access to pornography on their smartphones.

Above all, however, it has exposed a criminal justice system which fails to support the victims of sexual violence, forcing them to endure a traumatic and adversarial process, as this Irish Times editorial published on the day of the verdict outlines. Is it any wonder that just one in ten sexual offences in Ireland is reported?

scandal, violence, women's issues, crime

Details from the story:

  • International players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were accused of raping a woman at a party. Also on trial were their friends Blane McIllroy, accused of exposing his genitals to the woman, and Rory Harrison, accused of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.
  • The woman had to endure nine days of cross-examination on the stand, in front of members of the public, which were allowed in court (this is particular to the courts system in Northern Ireland, but would not be allowed in the Republic). Her underwear was passed around for all to see. Her sexual history and behavior were questioned.
  • After 41 days, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty for all four men.
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy