The Stanford Assault Case May Silence Future Victims

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In January 2015 a young woman went to a party at Stanford, and drank too much. The next morning, she woke up in hospital with no recollection of what had happened, the nurse informed her that someone had assaulted her. She later discovered that she had been found behind a dumpster and that a star swimmer called Brock Turner had raped her.

After a gruelling year long trial, the jury found him guilty of three counts of sexual assault, but the judge only sentenced him to 6 months in prison and probation because any longer would have a ‘severe impact’ on the rapist.

This shocked the world, how could a judge say so clearly that he didn’t care what happened to this young woman? He wasn’t interested in her suffering not only during and after the attack but having to relive it in the trial and try to put her life back together knowing that a man she didn’t know could cause her so much pain?

However, many sexual assault victims say that the sentence is perfectly in line with the narrative around sex crimes which favours the attacker over the victim.

Julia Dixon was sexually assaulted when she was studying at the University of Akron, her attacker was sentenced to 180 days in prison, and only served three. Fabiana Diaz, sexually assaulted on her second day of university in Michigan, was told that it wasn’t worth pursuing the case. She believes that Turner’s background was a factor:

If he had been black, he would have gotten 15 years. If he was Hispanic, he would have too. If he was anything but white and privileged. How do you know he’s learned his lesson?

Other survivors believe that this sentence could discourage other victims from reporting assault. Only around 12% of rape complaints from college women made it to the police. This case has begun to break the silence around sexual assault which will hopefully encourage more people to report it.

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Spanish, Portuguese and European Studies student, on her year abroad in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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