#LetThemSpeak

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"Convicted rapists and pedophiles in Victoria must be cheering in their jail cells today, to learn that their victims are no longer able to speak to the media, publish autobiographies, or do any kind of public advocacy work – at least not under their real identities.

Under changes to the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act – which were quietly introduced in February – it is now a crime for all rape and sexual assault victims to tell their stories under their real names, once a guilty verdict is in place.

Ironically, this is ordinarily the safest time for survivors to speak to media, and lawyers will often advise sexual assault complainants to wait until this moment as the defamation risk significantly drops away, as does the risk of jeopardizing an upcoming trial.

Now though, sexual assault survivors could face up to four months jail or fines of thousands of dollars if they speak out under their real identities post conviction.

It’s a crushing development for survivors, some of whom are just learning that they are no longer able to self-identify in media, despite having already performed years of advocacy around critical issues, including institutional child sexual abuse.

It’s also a thumping victory for all convicted sex offenders in Victoria, not only because their victims are now significantly hobbled in the media, but because the only way for an impacted survivor to overcome the gag-restriction is to go back to court at their own expense and inconvenience to apply for a court order.

This process could cost each victim in excess of $10,000 and there is no guarantee of success."

Let survivors of sexual assault speak out, let them share their stories.