By Elizabeth Rand, Contributor
For most students at Stanford University, it was just an ordinary Saturday night, a time to enjoy college life. Jan. 17, two years ago, a young girl and her sister decided to go out for the night. The last thing this unnamed girl would remember is waking up on a hospital gurney pulling pine needles from her hair. She would later find out on the local news how she had become a victim of sexual assault the night before.
Fifty-four percent of arrests within the general population for sexual assault result in conviction, while only 31 percent of college athletes arrested for sexual assault are convicted. Brock Turner, the young college student who was found guilty of sexually assaulting this girl, was sentenced to six months in jail, but in fact only served three and was released two weeks ago.
According to Brock Turner’s father, “20 minutes of action” should not result in a lifetime of consequences. However, one of the witnesses who saw Turner assaulting the victim stated that as soon as he and his friend approached him, Turner ran in the opposite direction. Clearly, he knew exactly what he was doing, and three months of jail time is without a doubt insufficient for this type of crime.
There are three factors that contribute to a prosecution: the likelihood of conviction, corroboration of a victim’s claim and the victim’s credibility. If you have not read the statement to Brock Turner from this victim, you should. It is crucial to understand what it truly means to be sexually assaulted. Three months of jail time does not equate to what is in store for this victim; there will be nightmares, worsened relationships, long term anxiety and the ability to function normally again will only come with time.
It takes an amazing amount of strength to face the person who caused so much pain, and I admire this girl’s courage to formally explain to the world what specifically happened the night that she was sexually assaulted. No one expects something like this to happen to anyone, but when it does the whole world changes, from how one wakes up in the morning to how one relates to humanity. While Brock Turner may be out in the world after serving his insignificant time in prison, women all over the nation who are victims of this senseless crime are unable to seek justice for what they have had and will continue to endure.
The public reaction to this case has been unprecedented. First, there is now a campaign to recall the judge who sentenced the case, and he is no longer allowed to be assigned to cases like this one. Second, California law now requires jail time for those convicted of sexual assault — but this still only gives a small amount of relief. Third, Stanford has banned hard liquor on its campus, including Greek housing, where the victim was found unconscious (a flawed response due to the fact that this blames the alcohol solely for the rape).
One has to consider if any of these three things would have happened if the two witnesses who passed the scene of Brock Turner assaulting this young woman had simply ignored what was happening.
Public awareness of cases like this one is not widespread in the general public, but I have hope that more and more women will find strength in knowing that there are people out in the world who they can turn to and that mental peace is in fact a possibility. It only takes one person to make a difference and to help women like the victim of Brock Turner.