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Nationwide rallies will take place tomorrow to protest victim blaming in the Irish courts following a controversial trial verdict in Cork.

Irish women have been sharing viral images of their underwear in response to the rape trial, in which a Cork barrister used a 17-year-old girl's underwear to argue that she had given the man accused of rape consent.

The 27-year-old man was found not guilty of raping the young woman in a Cork laneway; a result which has caused outrage all over the country.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The barrister representing the man, Elizabeth O’Connell SC, asked jurors to take into account the underwear which the teenager had been wearing at th time of the alleged rape.

She claimed the woman's "thong with a lace front" suggested that the woman "… was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone."

The Socialist Feminist organisation ROSA have responded by organised multiple rallies all over Ireland following the result.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Through their Facebook account, the group called the reference to the underwear a "disgrace" and are campaigning for an end to "victim blaming in the courts."

"These lines of character accusation and victim blaming are unfortunately a common tactic used in cases before the courts relating to sexual violence," ROSA stated.

"The judiciary has proven itself time and time again to be utterly damaging to survivors of sexual violence to seek justice."

The hashtag #thisisnotconsent has appeared all over every social media site, alongside photos of women's underwear in all forms.

There is a huge amount of anger online regarding the trial, which is especially poignant following an emotional year for women. The Belfast rape trial in March also caused a backlash nationwide when all four rugby players involved in the incident were acquitted of rape.

The '#IBelieveHer' hashtag is also spreading throughout Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in solidarity with the Corkwoman.

Protests in Dublin and Cork will begin at 1pm tomorrow, the rally on O'Connell street will meet at the Spire. On Wednesday November 14, a Limerick rally will begin at the earlier time of 12.30pm, and the Waterford protest will take place at 3:30pm on Friday November 16.

Check out the Ruth Coppinger TD and ROSA – Socialist Feminist Movement Facebook event page for more information.

Feature image: girlcrew.com

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Asking For It is one of the most ground-breaking pieces of Irish literature to be published in a long time.

Since it hit shelves in 2015, Louise O'Neill's novel has been the catalyst in addressing rape culture in Ireland and giving sexual consent a vocal platform. 

For those unfamiliar with the plot, Asking For It follows Emma O'Donovan, a fifth year student from the fictional Ballinatoon in Cork, suffers a horrific gang-rape at the hands of her male friends, which is plastered across social media afterwards.

It's aim, as author Louise says herself, is to start conversations of consent, slut-shaming and sexual violence.

The book explores how Emma's family, friends, wider community and of course, how she herself, reacts to the rape and the ripple effects that that fateful night has on everyone in Ballinatoon. 

So, how did the book translate to the stage? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Julie Kelleher came up with the idea to adapt the book for stage, a job which was taken on by Meadhbh McHugh in collaboration with director Annabelle Comyn under Landmark Productions.

And what an adaption it is.

It opens with Paul O’Mahony’s monolithic set, with it's fantastic use of glass panel buildings that transform into a bedroom, school, party and kitchen. 

Emma, played to perfection by Lauren Coe, is by no means a likeable character – she is a bully who belittles her friends.

Her girl group are well cast and fizz with chemistry, with a stand-out performance from Zoe (Venetia Bowe) who is harbouring a painful secret.

The dynamics of female friendship are explored as well as the teenage boys who are cringey in their attempts at overtly sexual banter.

Is this what being on the cusp of adulthood in 2010's Ireland is like? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Sinéad McKenna’s lights show glimpses of writhing bodies at a house party along with Jack Phelan’s video images of girls in states of distress.

When Emma ends up in a room with the Football Captain, he forces sex upon her – all which happens off stage – with voice-overs of Emma thoughts narrating it. 

One of her thoughts is that if she moans, it will end quicker and sure he seems to be enjoying it. 

The gang rape itself which happens after is blurred out in a fog of alcohol and drugs, and the first act ends with Emma's parents and brother finding her, unconscious, blistered and bleeding on her doorstep.

She wakes up and sees the events of the night before on Facebook.

It is conveyed by a series of splintered images of naked limbs, with overlapping voices echoing things like ''great sesh'', ''she's a bitch'' ''she was asking for it.'

The second act is an agonisingly slow and claustrophobic build-up to a heart-wrenching crescendo.

The set closes in on a suffocating kitchen, streaked with rain, in which Emma is trapped – as are we as the audience watching her. 

It is one year since the sexual assault and we see how it slowly destroying Emma's family.

Mam, played by Ali White, is trying to hold it all together for her ''beautiful family'' but cracks are showing in her marriage to Dennis (Fran O'Connor) who has retreated from his daughter and cannot cope with the trauma she has suffered…and the whispers of the neighbours.

Emma loses her voice for most of this act, with voice-overs letting the audience in on her thoughts as she remains a prisoner in her own home, with no access to the outside world. 

She has to cope not only with her own forms of PTSD, but her toxic mother, absent father and brother Bryan, who is the only person that shows any real sympathy and support for her. 

The climax, when it comes, is like a valve releasing pent-up tension with lines that evoke audible gasps from the audience as well as sobs that could be heard around the theatre. 

Asking For It is not an easy watch – it is 2 hours and 40 minutes of raw dialogue, difficult questions and a searingly honest depiction of modern Irish society and family life.  

Tweets like these say it all:

''The stage adaption of Asking For It is SO IMPORTANT. I am in absolute bits. The whole thing is so real. THAT is what is being brushed under the rug for my generation.''

''‘They’re good boys really, this just got out of hand’ #AskingForIt in @AbbeyTheatre is powerful, heartbreaking & unapologetically intense. The audience sobbed silently in solidarity for the second half.''

It runs in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin from 9 – 24 November – please try go and see it, you will not regret it. 

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Louise O'Neill's novel Asking for it completely grasped the attention of the country last year.

Not only was the novel a shocking portrayal of the realities of the attitude towards women and sexual assault in Ireland, the novel hit too close to home for many who had experienced similar attitudes in their own lives. 

The book has since been adapted into an on-stage production, which sold out – but it has just being announced that fans of the heart-wrenching novel will have another opportunity to see it played out on stage. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Asking For It is now heading to the Abbey Theatre, Dublin for a strictly limited run.

The curtains will go up from 9th – 24th November, so clear your schedule. 

Tickets are on sale right now, so make sure to snap yours up ASAP. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The novel was adapted for the stage by Meadhbh McHugh and Annabelle Comyn.

Louise O'Neill herself said og the show: 'Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw on that stage. The first act was a whirl of youthful energy and raw sexuality, cut through with an undercurrent of crackling tension,' she told The Irish Examiner. 

'During the party scene, the music felt as if it was pulsating in my veins, my heart racing, and my throat closing up with dread. As the huge screen splintered into broken images, with Emma’s voice narrating the scene, I desperately wished for a way to save her from her inevitable fate. I could hear someone quietly sobbing, and jolted when I realised it was me.'

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From drafting her first book at home in her parents' spare room to being flown to New York to discuss her first film deal, it’s certainly been four years of extremes for Cork native Louise O’Neill.

After over a year working for ELLE magazine in the US, O’Neill moved home in September 2011 with a plan – to write her first novel. Just over a year later, she had a full first draft of Only Ever Yours under her belt, which went on to win her the Newcomer Of The Year Award at the Irish Book Awards in 2014.

Pausing during our interview to hug her mum goodbye (“She’s off to Thailand!”) it’s clear O’Neill still has strong roots at home in West Cork. But over the last twelve months her life has spiralled in a million different directions – most notably last September, when US film/TV studio Killer Content bought the rights to Only Ever Yours.

"They flew me first class to New York and threw me a party on a yacht with Eva Longoria. It was all very surreal," she recalls to SHEmazing! from her family home in Clonakilty, where she’s spending the night before travelling back to Dublin for a panel discussion at the Mountains to Sea Book Festival. 

"I could never have anticipated it when I first started writing. I was just thinking of the next thousand words."

While that undeniably huge level of success might be enough to keep some young authors going, O’Neill barely stopped for a minute before penning her second – and equally lauded – book, Asking For It, which threw up a whole new set of "firsts" for her.

Chief among those is the fact that she’s become something of an unintentional activist for consent and sexual violence issues in Ireland, largely due to the subject matter of Asking For It.

The story of a Leaving Cert student who has her life ripped apart after explicit images of her end up online has struck a chord with Irish readers, not just in the Young Adult sphere but everywhere else, too.

"Even early on, when I was researching the book, I realised that rape and consent were much bigger issues in Ireland than I had ever known," she recalls.

"Women were coming to me and telling stories, saying things like ‘Oh, I had an unpleasant sexual experience,’ or ‘I was drunk, I said I didn’t want to have sex but we did’… Things that made me think, ‘That sounds like the definition of rape to me.’"

And even now, O’Neill is still asked to advise, help or just to be a listening ear to countless readers.

"I get emails every single day from women sharing their experiences – survivors or people going through things right now that Asking For It has helped them to understand," she says.

"It’s just been this ripple effect from where I first started, at home in my parents' spare room in my PJs, on the laptop.

"It’s humbling and gratifying but it’s also terrifying… The main thing I try to do is to listen and to be there."

Despite the ever-blurring divide between, as she puts it, "artist and activist," O’Neill is still on track with her third book, which she hopes to have finished by early next year.

"I do feel off-kilter at the moment, but I have a blanket ban from June [2016] to January [2017], and that’s when I’ll stay at home and really get into the writing. I need that stability and normality."

While O’Neill says she’s too "superstitious" to discuss the plot of her third novel just yet, she’s already started speaking to women and crafting "the voice of my main character."

For now though, it’s back on the road – first to UCC later in the afternoon for a creative writing workshop, and onward to Dublin tomorrow.

"It never stops," she laughs. "But it’s great. It’s brilliant."

Louise O’Neill will be discussing Asking For It at Opsh’s Book Club next Monday, March 14 at The Button Factory, Dublin 2.

She’ll be joined by journalists Louise Bruton and Jeanne Sutton; and blogger Rosie Connolly.

Tickets for the event start at €15, with €5 of each ticket redeemable on Opsh.com. Dubray Books are also offering 25% off Asking For It for ticketholders ahead of the event – simply use the code OPSH at checkout.

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