So the Stanford rape case has had me so angry, it’s been hard to respond coherently. The situation is that of Brock Allen Turner, a (white) male student – who happened to be on the Stanford swim team at the time – raping an unconscious female student in January 2015, and then getting only six months with probation last week, because the judge deemed a prison sentence would have a ‘severe impact’ on him. The woman responded with a searing letter: “I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.”
The father of the perpetrator responded with another letter in which he called it “20 minutes of action” for which his son shouldn’t be punished.
And in the meantime, Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards was facing up to 4 years in prison for trying to ‘de-arrest’ someone during a peace march. She was finally sentenced, in the past week, to 90 days in jail, with 18 days served, and 3 years on probation. She spends time in prison, Brock Allen Turner doesn’t.
So all of this is fury making of the worst kind. But I wondered – knowing how rarely rape gets convicted anywhere in the world – what the stats were in the US. Sure enough, Rebecca Solnit had the even more fury-making answer: so you thought 6 months with probation was absurd? The outrageous truth is that reporting a rape (women are twice as likely as men *not* to report) will be unlikely to lead to a conviction: only slightly more than 2% are convicted.
What is the conviction rate in India? Better than the US, strangely, but declining each year, even as reported cases go up: 44.3 percent in 1973, 26.4 percent in 2011.
And the base: across the world, rapes go unreported in the majority of the cases. It’s estimated that in India, reported cases are 1.8 per 100,000 people; for the US, it’s 28.6 per 100,000. And again, across the world, in the majority of cases, the perpetrator is known to the victim/survivor.
So in all the fury making around Stanford, yes – sign the campaign asking for judge Aaron Persky’s recall (I did). But as in so much else around injustice, recognise how we all tend to respond to individual cases rather than the underlying structural conditions of patriarchy and sexual assault. Did we pay attention to this case because the media carried it, and because he was a Stanford swimming champion? Did we not pay attention to Delta Meghwal’s rape and murder because she was Dalit?
So hold on to your outrage, make it count. Support the women and men around you who fight against patriarchy and discrimination every single day, not just this week.
#NotOneMore #FreeWomensBodies #NoMoreRape #RecallAaronPersky #JusticeforDelta #BlackLivesMatter