By Riya Kamboj
WANT Esteemed Contributor
This is a word usually handled with care, something that cannot be said about its victim.
As soon as a girl reaches a certain age she is taught never to trust a strange man regardless of social class, race, or where she lives, never to go out alone at night in the big city, never to let her guard down on a night out in the town. But the things that are not taught are ones she has to learn from experience: never to trust ANY man, never to go out alone at all, never to let her guard down; because she can never know what her friend, someone she has known for years, can be capable of after a couple drinks, she can never know that she is not safe in her own neighborhood let alone the big city, she can never know that letting her guard down is an invitation for any man in a five mile radius to have their way with her. They do not tell her these things and that is maybe why she will never tell anyone else.
This weight women carry with themselves translates into a lot of other important matters such as the fact that this constant fear is one of the biggest barriers preventing true gender parity. This feeling of helplessness when facing a man originates from the ‘safety’ lessons imparted on a girl since childhood.
In a study conducted by the Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers interviewed 8,000 women and 8,000 men. The survey found that 1 in 6 women had experienced an attempted rape or a completed rape. At the time they were raped; 22% were under the age of twelve, 54% were under the age of eighteen, and 83% were under the age of twenty-five.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), an anti-sexual violence organization, among graduate and professional students, 8.8% of females experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation and among undergraduate student the numbers go up to 23.1%.
These numbers have continued to increase throughout the years and although there is more media coverage of the incidents, the scales have tipped in favor of the offender. Most victims are afraid to report their trauma and the few that do are brushed aside as unimportant or attention seeking. In a large national survey of American women, only 16% of the rapes (approximately one out of every six) had ever been reported to the police.
Recently, a lot more cases concerning victims not being given as much importance have come up, but the infamous Brock Turner case remains to be the most controversial. Brock Turner was an athlete attending Stanford University when he was accused in the sexual assault of an unconscious woman in January 2015. Turner was convicted of three felonies. The prosecution recommended he serve prison time, but Michael Aaron Persky, the presiding judge on the case, sentenced him to six months in jail, stating that prison would “have a severe impact on him.” He was released on September 2, 2016 after serving three months on account of ‘good behavior’. He is now free to live his life after making sure that woman could never be. The impact of that night is something she will carry with herself for the rest of her life but god forbid a white all-star athlete is “impacted” for the scars he left behind.
There have been many more examples of such prejudice as of recent which leads to questions regarding the skewed morality of the people in authority and society in general for accepting this as a casual and negligible crime. A crime where the victim is scarred for life should not be something the offender gets to walk free from but that is the sad reality and something that one can only hope to rectify as time goes on.
Photo Credit: Valeri Pizhanski