Sexual Experience as Evidence
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For any item of evidence to be admissible in any proceedings it must be logically relevant to either a fact in issue or a collateral fact; and to determine whether evidence is logically relevant to a matter requiring proof the judge must formulate a generalisation from his own experience and what he understands to be conventional wisdom (see 3.1.1 ante). The problem is that some aspects of human life are more widely understood than others, and what is thought to be a valid generalisation may in fact be no more than a vague stereotype. Secondly, conventional wisdom itself may be suspect because different cultural groups do not necessarily view the world in the same way or share the same values. Different generations also have different values, which means of course that what might appear to be a valid generalisation to one generation could quite possibly be considered absurd by another. Problems such as these have bedevilled the law relating to the relevance of the complainant’s sexual experience in cases where the accused is alleged to have committed a sexual offence on her.
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