Dialogue around rape culture has to change

This week's reporter column suggests the dialogue around rape culture must change.

By now most people should be aware of a sexual assault case in the United States involving an Olympic hopeful swimmer who sexually assaulted an unconscious 22-year-old woman by a dumpster in Jan. 17 2015 and received a light punishment.

For those who don’t know, this is what is reported:

Stanford University student Brock Turner, a swimmer with a promising future, took an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and raped her. He was recently found guilty and convicted for raping an intoxicated woman. The charges against Turner included some graphic details of the crime.

His punishment? A sentence of six months in jail (Turner will most-likely spend half that time incarcerated), three years probation and registration as a sex offender. A sentence so light it was thought Turner faced between six to 14 years that it has finally created a need for discussions on a rape culture that often favours the assailant.

This topic may make some people uncomfortable but ignoring the situation won’t make it go away.

Imagine being the victim in the Turner case and having to read a letter from the assaulter’s father (Dan) pleading with Judge Aaron Persky to show some mercy. The unfathomable letter states the family have had their lives shattered. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of his life.”

And yet it’s difficult not to be moved by the victim’s impact statement. In it, she points out how her life has changed forever. Those 20 minutes caused enough pain for a lifetime. “I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being.”

“My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a 15-minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system,” she added.

Twenty minutes changed the course of a woman’s life forever; 20 minutes in which Turner could have done a world of good.

What victims face in these instances are questions related to their actions. Indeed, some people reading this may be asking those same questions: What was she wearing? Was she drunk? Did she lead him on? These questions put the responsibility of another person’s actions on the victim.

It is easy to see that odds are often stacked against the victim when those in the justice system also appear to blame the victim. Remember the court case where Alberta Judge Robin Camp berated a teen rape victim for not crossing her legs together? This was only a couple of years ago.

In an effort to clarify what consent actually is, some jurisdictions mandate sexual consent education. California has implemented a “Yes Means Yes” law. Others are highlighting the need for understanding using video tools.

The Thames Valley Police in England produced a video called Tea and Consent explaining initiating sex using a cup of tea as the analogy. The short video does a great job at pointing out if someone doesn’t want tea, or are unable to, then don’t force it on them. If they said they wanted tea yesterday that doesn’t mean they want tea today.

“If they don’t drink it, and this is the important bit, don’t make them drink it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to watch them drink it,” states the video.

It perfectly explains what consent means. It also shows a need to change how we approach this issue.

The dialogue has to change so that individuals feel safe in their own skin and environment.

 

Just Posted

Ponoka will save $430,000 with change to new waste contractor

Transition to take place with CanPak for Jan. 1, contract includes two bins

Crime rate slowly falling in Ponoka County

Ponoka RCMP stats show crime figures down from same nine month period in 2017

Ponoka Victim Services brings support dog to court hearing

One support dog was in Ponoka to provide support for a young victim attending court

Life of Darrell Paulovich honoured at Ponoka memorial

One of rodeo’s biggest fans was remembered during a memorial celebrating his life

PHOTOS: Volunteers add lights to Ponoka’s Centennial Park

Centennial Park in Ponoka will have a festive appearance once again thanks to volunteer supports

VIDEO: Shoppers like self-checkout lanes at the grocery store, survey suggests

Grocery Experience National Survey Report suggests most grocery shoppers spend 32 minutes per visit

Ponoka County issues stop order on un-permitted scrap metal recycler

Complaints about the business located near Morningside came to county council’s attention

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

Ponoka woman and Sylvan Lake man see assault charges withdrawn

Charges dropped in Rimbey Provincial Court, stayed against Morsette

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Rose was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected for contacting an official with 37 seconds left in the first half following a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.

Most Read