CW: Mentions of sexual assault and rape
As we live and breathe, the story of Brock Turner – the Stanford rapist – gets back into the limelight, and this time with a smidge of good news. Nowhere near enough to restore the faith we had in humanity, but to breathe nonetheless. In June 2018, the judge that issued a reduced sentence to the rapist – from 14 years to just six months – was recalled from the bench, while having four years left on his tenure.
It has never been common knowledge that sexual assault and rape are viewed in vastly different perspectives; but in California, it is. The survivor has repeatedly mentioned that the ideal outcome of the investigation and treatment of the incident would be that Brock Turner understood the ramifications of his actions, while acknowledging that the consequences are designed to both convince the perpetrator that the action was just wrong – and send a message to everyone else, saying this was not acceptable under any circumstances. The failure to achieve that spoke volumes; we had failed to ensure the future prevention of a crime like this, from a very fundamental standpoint.
Setting a precedent – a hard, positive one – was what we needed. This is essentially what will discourage and eventually stop heinous crimes like this from happening. Combining that with education and positive reinforcement of healthy sexual practices, we would be unlocking society’s hidden potential to be normal again. We should understand that survivors do not have a responsibility to act differently or behave in a certain way to avoid being assaulted; but all of us have a responsibility to do the right thing and ask if what they’re doing is wrong, or if the other party is comfortable. Consequences of getting away with a softer punishment are a lot harsher on the survivor than it is for the perpetrator. That is why the precedent is of paramount importance; we all look to it for guidance, and it helps us make better decisions in future that would inevitably save lives.
We continue to fight for a unified understanding of what constitutes sexual assault and lay down the groundwork for its prevention through awareness. We seek to educate, because after exposure to the laws and our factual awareness it becomes impossible to justify any and every form of sexual violence. Removing the judge from the bar sent a message to the legal representation and the wider community; but we need to ask ourselves if it is enough to create a ripple effect and tighten the laws that protect us all. Truth be told we have our work cut out for us, but if we work together in solidarity for a better, safer future I have faith we will get there.
- Akash Saha