In the three months that Brock Turner has been in jail, estimates have suggested that around 75,000 American women have been raped. The light treatment that Turner has received partly explains to us these shocking statistics. Many women are not coming forwarded and reporting such incidents and, when they see fellow victims fight hard legal battles, only for their rapist to be released three months later, this is hardly surprising. There was national outrage when the Santa Clara County Judge, Aaron Persky, handed Turner a pathetic six month sentence, as anything more would have a ‘severe impact’ on him. No offense, but why should the ‘severe impact’ jail would have on a rapist mean more than the severe impact his actions had on his victims life? The fact that he has now been released after 3 months, for ‘good behavior, is nothing less than sickening.
I am well aware that, by definition, Turner cannot actually be classed as a ‘rapist’ by California state law, but all this says to me is that the definition needs to be seriously reconsidered. The lack of continuity merely results in considerable variation between jurisdictions. Despite this though, his actions could have seen him receive a maximum of fourteen years in prison. Instead he got three months…
After the event, Stanford made attempts to ensure nothing like this happens again by banning hard alcohol at their parties, not so subtly implying that rape is not the fault of rapist but rather alcohol. Although it has now been removed, Stanford also created a page on their website called ‘Female Bodies and Alcohol’, explaining why women drinking is ‘high-risk behavior’ that should be avoided. A letter presented in Turner’s case echoed such attitudes, stating that Turners’ life shouldn’t be affected by ‘the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank.’ When one considers this victim shaming, it is no surprise that women aren’t coming forward. Rape is the fault of no one except the rapist. People should not be taught not to enjoy themselves, people should be taught not to be rapists. As for the fact his life should not be affected by his choice to rape someone, I think we really need to take a moment to consider the impact his actions will have upon his victims life. He made a choice to rape someone and he should be held accountable for that.
The sad truth is, the Turner case is one of many and highlights to sexual assault epidemic that is taking place on a much larger scale. National statistics in America show that one in every five female college students report being sexually assaulted, however, schools continue to undermine and mishandle the issue. Until the punishment rapists receive is fitting for their crime there is no deterrent and nothing is going to change.
Jamie Lee Jenkins, Editor in Chief (@JenkinsLeeJamie)
Picture credit: The Independent