Warning: This article deals with an account of rape/sexual assault and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
In Tasmania, two women are preparing for a fight in the state’s Supreme Court.
These women – known by pseudonyms Jane* and Leia* – are fighting to tell their own stories. And they’re fighting for other women in the state to be able to do the same, by trying to change the law.
Because these women are sexual assault survivors, and if they were to share their own stories alongside their real names and faces they could be prosecuted under an archaic Tasmanian law,
Currently, it is illegal for publications in Tasmania and the Northern Territory to name sexual assault survivors, even with the survivor’s full consent. When a Tasmanian publication did so in 2012, it was fined $20,000.
Journalist and anti-sexual assault advocate Nina Funnell is backing the women’s fight. With End Rape on Campus Australia and Marque Lawyers, she is the creator of the #LetHerSpeak campaign to scrap Section 194K of the Evidence Act.
As a sexual assault survivor herself, to Nina the idea of not having control over your own story is horrific.
"For me being able to tell my story under my real name was a way in which I could fight the stigma and reclaim a sense of control," she told Mamamia.
"What is healing is being able to reclaim a sense of power and control, so to be told by the courts 'You can't tell your own story, we're the ones who get to decide that' is so insulting.
"It exacerbates existing trauma because it re-victimises the person by further stripping them of control."
Through her reporting, Nina has formed close bonds with Jane and Leia, who she describes as "strong, extraordinary women".
Jane was 15 when she was groomed and repeatedly sexually assaulted by her 58-year-old maths teacher. In 2011, He was sentenced to two years and four months in jail for his crimes. Jane has never been able to share her story under her own name, while her perpetrator has spoken to media on numerous occasions.