By Mollie Owens
America’s judicial system needs to take a stronger stance against the issue of rape crimes and the lack of incarceration, as rape victims are silent and attackers get to walk away, free handed.
Rape is a prevalent issue, to the point where a woman is raped every two minutes in America, according to Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. These programs also surveyed women and men and found that 9-32% of women and 5-10% of men report of being sexually abused during their childhood. This is only a small percentage of the real numbers.
An analysis by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), found that 97% of rapists never spend a single day in jail for their crimes. This percentage is a main factor as to why victims don’t want to report incidents. Only 344 sexual assault victims report their cases to the police, and the numbers only get lower for the amount of trials held, to the incarcerations.
For instance, Brock Turner, a young adult tried for sexual assault, was freed from prison after just three months. Turner, who was a prominent swimmer at Stanford, received this lenient sentence from a judge who was himself a former Stanford athlete, and even stated that he saw himself in Turner.
As Joseph Margulies noted in Newsweek, “if Turner were poor, and especially poor and minority, his sentence would have been considerably more severe and he would not have escaped prison.” Margulies continued, arguing “Turner got off easily because he is not poor or a person of color.” Turner benefited from white privilege and the income status of his family. The Judge took sympathy upon him, and turned an original six year sentence into six months, which turned to the three Turner spent in jail. The Judge believed that jail would have too much of an impact on the privileged man, but little did he recognize the lifelong traumatic impact Turner’s victim would have to suffer.
Changes must be brought about by our judicial system. We cannot allow men or women to walk away with no charges from rape cases. People’s lives are being ruined, and we are not taking the steps we need to obliviate it.
Senior at CDHS, Alex West, believes that an impactful step society must take is to stop stigmatizing rape. She says, “in the judicial system, there is only so much that can be done because proving rape is extremely difficult. The real problem is that victims don’t come forward because they are afraid, and witnesses need to come forward and help as well. This all begins with education at an early age. People need to know their rights and we need to be taught about it early on.”
The growing rape culture present in today’s society is a real problem that not only we, as individuals, must recognize but our superiors and people who hold power in the nation as well.