Added: October 25, 2008 – Last updated: March 4, 2017


Author: Constance Backhouse

Title: Skewering the Credibility of Women

Subtitle: A Reappraisal of Corroboration in Australian Legal History

Journal: University of Western Australia Law Review

Volume: 29

Issue: 1

Year: March 2000

Pages: 79-107

ISSN: 0042-0328 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | Oceanian History: Australian History | Cases: Offenders / Louis Sullivan; Cases: Victims / Ila Florence Collins; Prosecution: Trials / Carnal Knowledge; Types: Child Sexual Abuse; Victims: Girls



Author's Personal Website (Free Access)

Australasian Legal Information Institute (Free Access)

HeinOnline (Restricted Access)

Social Science Research Network (Free Access)


Author: Constance Backhouse, Faculty of Law - Common Law Section, University of OttawaAuthor's Personal Website, ResearchGate, Wikipedia

Abstract: »Female victims of sexual assault have traditionally found their courtroom testimonies assailed by legal rules requiring corroboration. This article examines the historical roots of the doctrine of corroboration, using a case study based on R v Sullivan, a trial for 'carnal knowledge of a girl under 16' that took place in Perth in 1912-1913. Drawing upon archival records and contemporary newspaper reports, the author uses the case to illustrate how Australian lawyers and judges interpreted the corroboration rules in ways that privileged men accused of sexual assault and unfairly disadvantaged female complainants.« (Source: University of Western Australia Law Review)


  The Primary Witness: Ila Collins (p. 82)
  The Origin of the Doctrine of Corroboration (p. 86)
  The 'Back-Up Evidence' (p. 88)
  The Charge and the Verdict: Round One (p. 92)
  The Appeal: Round Two (p. 99)
  Strangling the Doctrine of Corroboration (p. 105)

Wikipedia: History of Oceania: History of Australia / History of Australia (1901–45) | Rape in Australia | Sex and the law: Carnal knowledge, Child sexual abuse