What is the "evidence" in the "expert witness" debates? : The trials (and tribulations) of child sexual abuse case evidence and the demise of section 23G : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Women's Studies at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
Conflicts dogged the 1990 amendments to the Evidence Act 1908. These amendments were intended to make it easier for children alleging sexual abuse to give evidence in court. Section 23G, which made provisions for an ―expert witness‖ to testify for the prosecution in such a case, was particularly contentious. The Evidence Act 2006 came into effect on 1 August 2007 and relinquished s 23G. The debates that surrounded s 23G expert witness evidence raise epistemological issues which are explored in this thesis. An analysis of constructions of expert witness evidence pertaining to child sexual abuse within legal, psychiatric and psychological discourses and the situation of these constructions in the socio-political environments of their times expose their gendered origins. A feminist methodology is employed to identify the ongoing impact on child sexual abuse cases of the gendered epistemology that underpins modern Western knowledge construction.