Dear Future President,
Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted.
My name is Hope Stephen. I am in eleventh grade and I am seventeen. I have heard the stories about young women who are sexually assaulted and never seek justice out of fear of judgement, or young women who take their cases to court, only to have their assaulter receive a short sentence or even get off scot-free. I have heard sexual assaulters turn the blame onto the victim, sayings like “She didn’t say no” or “She’s my girlfriend, it’s fine.” I, along with many other young women who are getting ready for college and to fly the coup, are concerned about this issue and how to get justice in the American Criminal Justice System.
No one wants to be taken advantage of; emotionally, intellectually or physically. An article on RAINN.org (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) provides statistics regarding sexual assault in the USA- it states that fifty-four percent of victims are ages eighteen to thirty-four. As a young girl approaching this age, along with millions of others, it is my place to wonder how and when the government is going to take the needed step forward to eradicate or at least decrease the amount of times this happens to girls like me. Another statistic from the same article is that “one out of every six American women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime”. When I hear statistics like this, it makes me wonder about what the justice system is doing for this one-sixth of the female population in America. Sometimes girls get themselves into bad situations and are taken advantage of, but don’t they deserve justice too? Doesn’t everyone deserve justice?
Cases like Brock Turner vs. the People is a clear example of the American Criminal Justice System not doing its part to protect the young women against sexual assault. Brock Turner was a student-athlete at Stanford University in California. He sexually assaulted an unconscious woman. He was tried and was looking at most fourteen years in prison. The prosecutor called for six years, but he ended up getting three months in jail for good behavior. Although he must register as a sex offender and that comes with certain restrictions, he should be locked up. Rape is not only a physical attack on a person, but studies show that victims also experience mental distress thereafter. The RAINN says that “ninety-four percent of rape victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder two weeks after the crime” and “thirty percent still experience PTSD nine months after the crime”. This evidence clearly shows the long term effects that sexual assault can have on a woman. Also, statistics show that women who were victims of rape are more likely to turn to drugs or turn to attempts and sometimes completed suicide. The evidence also depicts the mental toll that being a sexual assault victim takes on a human. Cases like Brock Turner should not be so easily dismissed in court because of the damage he has done to the woman; this case is a microcosm for events that happen in America every day whether the victim takes it to court or not. Perpetrators continue to be unpunished for the damage they cause and it is not right.
11th grade, California