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In the Brock Allen Turner case, the rapist was sentenced for only 3 months, when he was charged with three counts of sexual assault. It’s in sharp contrast with the social and legal struggle a victim goes through.
On September 2, Brock Allen Turner was released from jail after serving a mere three months of sentence, for three charges namely; assault with the intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. He was greeted with protests from the people and media, who have been actively criticizing the developments in his trial, ever since the case was registered in January 2015.
To state the facts briefly, Turner was found sexually assaulting the victim who had joined her sister and her friends for a party on a Saturday night. The police found the victim behind a dumpster in an unconscious and intoxicated state with her lower body completely exposed and Turner being held down at a distance by two boys after they saw him on top of the girl.
Two of the most widely discussed documents relating to the trial of this case were the letters written by the victim to the judge opposing the leniency in punishment (victim impact statement) and the letter of Turner’s dad pleading with the judge to consider a lesser punishment which would be consistent with his ‘good character’ and promising academic and swimming career (Dan Turner’s letter).
These letters represent how the world of a rape victim, is a sharp contrast with that of her assailant. The letters reflect the dual struggle that a woman who suffers sexual assault has to go through, in fighting with the inherent flaws of our society and the awkward biases of the legal system. No matter which place you belong to, how developed your economy is or to which class of the society you are born into, some facets of our lives continue to coincide; Boys will be boys and girls have to be careful enough not to get into any trouble.
While the victim of rape has to endure the unending anguish each and every day as she stands in the courtroom, which leaves no chance to recreate the entire incident, the assailant pleads innocent and seeks the sympathy of the judge on account of his young age and the bright future awaiting him.
They tell the sorry tale of a society where class creeps in silently, to protect an offender and mellows down the judge. This class, however, does not come to the aid of the woman who is asked infuriating questions, about her sex life with her partner. The law is as corrupt as the society and seldom brings justice without turning a victim’s life into a nightmare. Justice is illusionary, it is as absent in the courts of law as in the hearts of those who lament that a single night, destroyed the life of a boy who could have done much for the society.
A single night, a single incident, that’s what they always say. How can it be so wrong for a girl who parties, drinks and has a boyfriend? This game of blame has crossed boundaries and oceans; it is present in our homes, offices, streets, laws, parliaments, everywhere.
The good news is that such one nights are not being allowed to fade now. Women all around the world are persistently challenging everything that is wrong with our world and relentlessly fighting from their position of victims. The letter of the girl here is not to be mistaken as a cry against injustice, rather it is the sign of strength of a woman who will continue to rise and shine no matter how much you try to degrade her life and existence in favor of a ‘bright young man’.
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I am a law professor who aspires and dreams to make the world a safer
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