Calls to expand changes to the way sexual violence victims are treated in court are mounting, fuelled by outrage over the Grace Millane trial.

A 27-year-old man was convicted on Friday of the backpacker's murder by strangulation, which occurred during a Tinder date in central Auckland on December 1 last year.

The defence case argued the death was not murder but an accident which occurred during rough sex. It relied on evidence from Millane's former sexual partners to allege she enjoyed BDSM and choking, and therefore the sex would have been consensual.

A raft of experts say Millane's sexual history should not have been allowed to be picked over by defence lawyers; and other alleged victims of the accused should have also had more protection.

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Experts hope changes underway to the way rape trials are won could be expanded to any case with a sexual violence element. Photo / File
Experts hope changes underway to the way rape trials are won could be expanded to any case with a sexual violence element. Photo / File

The trial not only re-victimised Millane, but her parents and friends; and also fed into misconceptions about women and sex, they said.

"We have a set-up in New Zealand within our justice system where victim blaming and rape culture is still used to undermine the credibility of someone saying they have been sexually abused," White Ribbon manager Rob McCann said.

"I'm concerned about what I saw, but that's our current system and I think that system needs to be changed."

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They say new rules contained in the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill - which among its reforms seeks to protect rape complainants from unduly invasive questioning about their sexual history or disposition - should be expanded to cover any case of sexual or gendered violence, including homicide.

"If you can apply it to a living woman, why can't you apply it to a dead one?" said Wellington Women Lawyers' Association convener Steph Dyhrberg.

"And why can't you apply it to witnesses? They're not the ones on trial here."

The accused's defence team acted within the law when they referenced Grace's sexual history. Now advocates are asking if that's right. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The accused's defence team acted within the law when they referenced Grace's sexual history. Now advocates are asking if that's right. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Dyhrberg said we needed to think about the overarching purpose of justice, and what that looked like.

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"It can't be that any dirty trick is open to defence counsel. That's not a justice system. That's a 'getting people off' system.

"Justice has to be even-handed, and balanced. It feels like our scales of justice have got completely out of whack."

Wellington lawyer Steph Dyhrberg says the scales of justice are
Wellington lawyer Steph Dyhrberg says the scales of justice are "out of whack". Photo / 123rf

General manager of Wellington Rape Crisis Kyla Rayner said the whole point of the new provisions were to cause less harm. Repeated studies had shown that sexual violence victims found it "traumatic" and "degrading" going through court.

"But the impacts of violence don't just hurt individual people, they ripple out. There's also a victimisation of her parents, which we saw last week," she said.

"We don't want our justice system to harm the people that are there to seek justice."

Grace Millane's parents Dave and Gillian heard intimate details of their daughter's sex life during the trial. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Grace Millane's parents Dave and Gillian heard intimate details of their daughter's sex life during the trial. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Rayner said it had been ridiculous to watch the new legislation announced in the middle of the Millane trial - a prime example of why it was overdue.

Whether such changes would be possible is unclear.

Justice Under-Secretary Jan Logie, the driving force behind the current bill, could not be reached for comment.