by Jade Milburn
This month in the U.S, a rape case made the headlines, but in the midst of the darkness, there were shining lights in the case, and there are important lessons that we in Ireland, can benefit from.
Brock Turner, a former Stanford student, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in January of 2015 behind a dumpster.
The woman read out a victim impact statement that has gone viral, due to its unprecedented ability to accurately describe what victims of rape and sexual assault describe it as feeling like, ‘I don’t want my body anymore, I was terrified by it, I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else’. You can read her statement in full if you wish to do so here:
What was positive about the case, though, was that: two men saved her, and this was what drew the attention of the world in the first place. Two male cyclists, also Stanford students, found her being sexually assaulted behind a dumpster, and removed the man, pinned him down, and called the police. This is how a high functioning society should work, both genders looking out for the other, and the woman in the case stated that she sleeps with a drawing of two bicycles over her head, to remind her of the men that saved her, and that there is good in the world.
The sentencer in the case, Judge Aaron Persky, has also been removed from another sexual assault case, due to his lenient sentencing in this one, after a national outcry resulted in over 1,000,000 people signing a petition to have him removed.
So, you see, standing up for better in the world and in your own lives, can effect enormous change. In Ireland, where we have a poor conviction for rape, and where we have had lenient decisions in rape cases, never think that your voice can’t make a change. Injustice is only ever wiped out when people come together and say that this is not good enough.
Women everywhere are now coming together to share their stories online, and to say that this is not good enough anymore.
Everyone’s voice can be heard. They are now drafting new legislation in California to get rid of the loophole that allowed lenient sentencing in this particular case. Let’s stand together and look at what can be done in Ireland. No more injustice.
Let us, male and female, participate in a future where we are like the two male cyclists in this case: if we see any harm being done, we stop it happening.