The Use Of Language In Sexual Assault Law

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Sexual assault laws have been amended and created over time to ensure the criminal justice system remains sensitive to the tribulations involved in rape trials for the victim. However, the connotative capacity of language used in evidentiary testimonies in rape trials can defeat the purpose of these reforms as ‘language is not merely a means of putting forth evidence in a case, but it in fact transforms the nature of evidence itself, thus influencing the outcome of the case’ (Maheshwari 2014:1).

As theorised by Bourdieu (1982) symbolic power as ‘the power to create reality through language’ (Matoesian 1995:38) is successfully employed in rape trials to instil patriarchal and legal domination over the victim. The use of language in courtroom

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