Tens of thousands of sexual assault survivors in Victoria have been stripped of their legal right to tell their stories using their real names.The changes to the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act – which were quietly introduced in February – silence all sexual assault victims whose offenders have been found guilty, by banning them from ever speaking out under their real identities.The new ‘gag laws’ have been described as a “major victory” for convicted paedophiles and rapists, as their victims are now “muzzled” and prohibited from self-identifying in publications – including media and autobiographies – regardless of their consent.
The laws also apply irrespective of when the crime occurred or when the offender was found guilty, meaning that many Victorian survivors who have lawfully been able to tell their stories in the past are now censored.
This includes scores of high profile survivor advocates – including several clergy abuse victims from Ballarat – some of whom have been speaking out for decades.
These individuals will now potentially face jail time if they continue their advocacy work under their real names.
Any sexual assault victim found guilty of breaking the new laws could face up to four months jail and fines in excess of $3000. Media outlets could also face potential prosecution and fines of over $8000.