Dear Next President,
According to the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, a sexual assault is committed somewhere in America every two minutes. If the assault is reported to the authorities, the victim will have to undergo SAEK (Sexual Assault Evidence Kit) collection and questioning. Gathering evidence for the rape kit can take up to four hours or more, and it is close to being as invasive as the initial assault itself. Of course, the invasiveness of these tests is understandable since gathering legitimate evidence would be difficult, if not impossible, without the rape kit. Likewise, some questions asked by the police are necessary, such as when and where the assault occurred.
However, there is one question that sticks out above all others as being completely useless. “What were you wearing at the time?” Why in the world would that matter? The only rational explanation my mind can concoct is that there is a serial rapist attacking people wearing similar articles of clothing. However, the majority of the time that is not the case. So why does it matter? The truth is, it does not. No matter who the person may be, they were sexually assaulted in a brutal, cruel manner. What they were wearing at the time does not change their consent. Even if they were wearing no clothes at all, that does not mean they consent. The victim’s answer to the question does not change the fact that sexual assault is a crime. However, many people in America seem to believe that a victim’s choice of clothing does affect whether or not they “had it coming”. The number of times I have heard people, both male and female, say “well she was wearing a short skirt; she put herself in that situation” is astonishing. That statement essentially condones the criminal’s violent act by stating that it is the victim’s fault for tempting the perpetrator. Personally, I know a number of people who have been sexually assaulted. They were not wearing a short skirt or dress; they were wearing baggy sweatpants and an old t-shirt. Were the t-shirt and sweatpants tempting the perpetrator too? Were the pink panda pajamas on a five-year-old too provocative? Was the muddy football uniform enticing enough for the boy to deserve it?
No one deserves to be raped.
After all this trauma, the victim’s rape kit may sit on a shelf and collect dust. The sexual predator may walk out of jail after a month. As the criminal moves on with their life, the victim remains traumatized. Unable to walk alone without constantly glancing over their shoulder. Unable to stop the scene from replaying over and over and over again in their nightmares. Unable to replace that piece of themselves that was ripped away. Yet, the criminal walks free. The criminal does not have to glance over their shoulder out of fear. They do not replay that graphic scene in their nightmares. There is no emptiness resonating inside of them. When a sexual predator is free, nothing is stopping them from finding another victim. Nothing is stopping them from ruining another person’s life. After all, if they got caught, it would only be a couple months in jail. This is precisely why I implore you, the president of the United States, to lengthen the sentences for sexual assault crimes. All predators should be locked up for life. If you read this and think “this is a trifle matter that does not concern me”, vividly imagine what the victim went through. Imagine all of that happening to someone you love, or even yourself. Now does it concern you?