Sexual Violence & Justice

My work on sexual violence covers a wide range of areas, with the overarching theme of reforming law and policy to better secure justice for victim-survivors. My research has investigated what victim-survivors themselves see as justice, developing the concept of ‘kaleidoscopic justice’ with my colleague Nicole Westmarland. We have also considered the possible use of restorative justice in cases of sexual violence.

My research has also challenged the common use of sexual history evidence in sexual assault trials, questions of anonymity for defendants and complainants in cases of sexual violence, sentencing and feminist activism. This work all builds on earlier work including a British Academy funded conference Rethinking Rape Law which resulted in the publication of Rethinking Rape Law: international and comparative perspectives co-edited with Vanessa Munro.

(1) Sentencing and sexual offences

In 2011, Ken Clark, then Minister for Justice, propRape Law poster (small)osed increasing the sentencing discount awarded to defendants who plead guilty to a maximum of 50%. Public debate on this idea was impossible due to his comments made at the time of the announcement about some rapes being more serious than others. However, McGlynn has argued that while he was wrong on distinguishing between rapes, he was right to start a debate on sentencing discounts for very early guilty pleas. McGlynn argues that early guilty pleas may save some victims the trauma of pursuing a case through to court.

Judge frees womanClare is a regular commentator in the national media on matters relating to rape law, including on sentencing reform and controversial cases involving false allegations of rape and false retractions.

(2) Anonymity for rape defendants

McGlynn has also contributed to the debate surrounding anonymity for defendants accused of rape. She argues against the introduction of anonymity for rape defendants, and rejects calls for the crime of rape to be treated differently to other crimes. She highlights the importance of open justice, a principle that is generally afforded greater weight than privacy rights. McGlynn argues that discussion of the issue would benefit from consideration of the wider criminal justice context, in particular the themes of open justice and human rights.

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