The average prison sentence for rape is roughly 9.8 years, although many people who are convicted are released after 5.4 years. This, for obvious reasons, sounds extremely shocking. Four years stripped off a sentence when the crime committed is arguably one of the most traumatic and disgusting crimes of all. But if four years off a sentence sounds awful, how does a six month sentence for rape getting cut in half sound? Because that’s exactly what happened in the Stanford Rapist case.
Brock Turner, a former Stanford University student, raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity house. Despite prosecutors arguing that Turner should have received minimum six years for his crime, a judge ruled that he should be granted six months in the Santa Clara Jail and that he should be banned from swimming competitively and that once released, he should be on probation for three years and also participate in a sex offender rehabilitation program.
This sparked a worldwide outrage. The controversy of the Brock Turner case lit up the internet like wild fire and it was all people could talk about, and now they are talking about it again for the same good reason: Injustice. After Turner made the conscious decision to violate somebody, to rape that woman, he was treated like a precious little child who should not be harmed. His father posted on social media about how Turner was a good boy, he just made a bad decision. However, it seems the only bad decision was made on the part of the criminal court for sentencing him to six months and granting him early release.
When the courts decided to release their “soon to be reformed” Turner, they didn’t consider several aspects, they didn’t take the time to think about the consequences that this would have. According to the Justice Institute of British Colombia, one out of seventeen women is raped. There are 3.52 billion women in the world. 207,058,823 women get raped annually on average. That is an immense number. These women are mothers. They’re sisters, they’re girlfriends and wives and daughters. They’re people, just like all the men who also get raped. They have had their entire lives destroyed by a selfless animalistic urge that the attacker chooses not to control.
Brock Turner being released after 3 months gives power to rapists. It gives predominantly white rapists a sense of security. They believe that despite them being in the wrong and committing an atrocious crime, the courts will favour them to a certain degree, and that they will be able to escape much of the legal repercussion that comes with being a rapist. The Lisak study of 2002 demonstrated that 15% of men are rapists or have committed sexual assault and some statistics from the same study (although other study results correspond) display that up to 1 in 7 men is a rapist. The leniency of the justice system in the case is one of the main reasons that there are over 75,000 cases of rape every single year despite a shocking 6% of rapes being reported.
Turner’s case will add to the number of decreasing reasons that rape victims do not come forward and report their assailant or speak about their experiences. The criminal justice system has a nasty habit of dismissing rape cases because there is supposedly insufficient proof or another similar reason, and society as a whole has a condescending attitude towards rape victims, often asking questions such as if the victim had been drinking, what they were wearing, if they were alone. Turner being released after 3 months has proven to many women and men in the world that the justice system simply does not take rape seriously and that rapists like Brock Turner are easily portrayed as the victim in the situation.
Because of Brock, the world seems like a less safe place to a certain extent because now rapists know that they have a winning chance and not getting a severe sentence because the court simply doesn’t care and that the rape victim isn’t seen as the victim, and that they will not be taken seriously. People will shout and scream that Turner being released isn’t right at all, yet he walks free, like you and me and the millions of rapists who have all the freedom and confidence in the world right now. Because of Brock Turner, women are more afraid now.
The big question is, if raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster outside a fraternity house gets you six months in a jail with early release for no apparent reason other than the fact that you’re an educated and privileged white male and the criminal justice system are in your favour because they see “potential to change and to rectify [his] actions”, what happens to all the rape victims? Because whilst their assailants walk free or spend small time in prison, they are the ones who are prisoners in their own homes because of mental trauma and possible physical trauma. They are the people who have to remember how it felt to have no control over what somebody else was doing to their vulnerable bodies, they are the people who have to learn that the person who altered their lives forever in one of the worst ways is free and they know that they will never be free because they have been hurt too much. There is no justice.
To all the victims of rape or sexual assault, male or female: You are not to blame. You are not at fault. The people who are supposed to protect us won’t do their job correctly, they won’t imprison those who dare steal our lives, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t care and that people don’t believe you. People care and they will listen, and you are braver than you think because you are still here and you are able to talk about what happened.
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