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Big mouth: evidence & mediated justice in sexual violence claims 
Nomi Dave (University of Virginia)
Bremen Donovan (University of Virginia)
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Start time:
26 March, 2021 at
Time zone: Europe/London
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This roundtable explores truth, justice, and the use of audio-visual technology in sexual assault cases. We will present work-in-progress on a film about a Guinean defamation suit against a feminist activist. We consider how audio-visual evidence generates public debates that shape legal outcomes.

Long Abstract:

In 2019, the Guinean journalist , Moussa YĆ©ro Bah, was found guilty of defamation. The suit involved a clip on her radio program about a sexual assault case. While she never named the alleged perpetrator, his identity was known on the street and social media. He promptly sued Bah, and won. Activists were inflamed by this decision and rallied in Bah's support. Meanwhile, the alleged perpetrator was never brought to trial, despite the existence of video evidence against him.

This tangled web of legal actions raises critical questions about truth claims, production of proof, and parallel systems of justice in sexual assault cases. While formal processes require compiling evidence and investigating claims, the outcome is often shaped by gossip, media activism, and public opinion. What happens to audio-visual evidence when it spills out of courtrooms and into public life? How should journalists balance free expression with respect for rule of law? What ultimately constitutes justice, for survivors and advocates?

This roundtable brings together researchers and practitioners across law, anthropology, media studies, and film to explore questions of truth, justice, shame, and activism in sexual assault cases. We will share an early cut of a film about the Guinean case and explore topics including feminist digilantism in sexual violence cases; audio-visual technology and its legal impacts; and public shame as a productive force. We will also consider how to use anthropology and film-making as advocacy.


- Adrienne Cohen (Colorado State)

- Carrie Rentschler (McGill)

- Jesse Weaver Shipley (Dartmouth)