The courage, strength, and dedication shown in this letter is admirable. The June 2nd verdict of six months in jail has sparked public outrage. Between the media, Facebook, and Twitter this story is everywhere – as it should be. Judge Aaron Persky sentenced an ex-Stanford swimmer to six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. SIX MONTHS.
I’ve seen the headlines, the Facebook posts, and the Tweets, but it wasn’t until today that I took the time to really read it. As I was reading this woman’s thirteen page letter I was struck with several different emotions – I’m sad for her, I’m angry for her, I’m proud of her, I’m amazed by her strength, and I’m appalled at the legal system.
Brock Turner – the ex-Stanford swimmer – was given this sentenced because the judge believed his age and lack of criminal history made it so “he will not be a danger to others” and that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.” Last time I checked, that is what prison is for, to impact people and to make them pay for the crimes they have committed. Even after the six month sentence, which he will likely only serve three of before being released, Turner’s father came out with a statement saying, “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action of his 20 plus years of life.” Brock, who has never once apologized for his crime, made his own statement in court where he blamed alcohol for his actions.
This is the society we live in. This is the legal system we have in place. When a judge is more concerned with the well-being of a rapist than the victim, justice, or public safety we have a problem. We live in a society where every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, only 60% are every reported and 97% of the perpetrators will not spend a single day in jail. For years anti-rape campaigns have been stressing that in no way is rape acceptable. Alcohol, flirting, short skirts, etc. don’t excuse rape. Ever. Unfortunately, this is a horrifying example of rape cultural that sets anti-rape movements back.
As a society, we can't accept this any longer. We NEED to take a stand and let people know rape is never okay. Several petitions have been started to remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench and can be signed here and here. Something has to change, because, while the victim in this case has had the strength to take a stand, she shouldn't have had to take it in the first place.