You will have heard about Brock Turner, “the Stanford rapist”. You will have seen his face plastered all over the Internet. You will probably have read the shameful plea for a lenient sentence by his father. You will have read the victim’s letter.
I hope you have read the victim’s letter. If you haven’t, please, whatever your situation, your sex, your background or your beliefs, please read it here. It is the strongest and most courageous testimony you will ever read.
You will know all about “the Stanford rapist”: the “promising” swimmer who sexually assaulted an intoxicated and unconscious young woman behind a dumpster truck leaving abrasions, bruising and mud inside her vagina.
You will probably be outraged at the leniency of the six month sentence passed down to Brock. On good behaviour, and I’ve no doubt it’ll be exemplary, he will serve three months – just enough time for the media frenzy to settle so that he can start his life afresh.
His victim will never be able to start her life afresh. The physical scars will heal – I am sure they already have. But the emotional and psychological scars will always travel with her. They will define her.
What you won’t have stopped to consider is that in the eyes of Californian state law, Brock Turner isn’t actually a rapist. Californian state law defines rape as penetration by the penis. Brock Turner didn’t penetrate with his penis, he penetrated with his fingers and foreign objects. He did not rape his victim.
Under English law, Brock wouldn’t be classified as a rapist either.
Did Brock think that his actions were less severe because he did not insert his penis?
Did Brock think that his actions were excusable because he did not insert his penis?
Whether he inserted his penis or not, the impact for the victim is the same. The victim’s sexual organ was penetrated. This phallo-centric definition of rape underplays the seriousness of other forms of penetrative sexual assault.
Is murder a lesser crime if committed by strangulation rather than using a weapon such as a gun or a knife? No, it isn’t, because the impact on the victim is the same.
The definition of rape should relate to the impact on the victim rather than the method used by the perpetrator.
Brock’s is not the only outrageous rape case that has incensed me this week.
In Qatar a Dutch woman was convicted for being raped. Yes, read that again. I had to re-read the sentence when I first discovered the news article. A woman was convicted for being raped. She was handed a suspended sentence, fined the equivalent of £580 and will be deported.
The 22 year old woman had her drink spiked in a Doha hotel in March. She woke up in a stranger’s flat and realised she had been raped.
Her attacker was sentenced to 100 lashes for having sex outside of marriage. He claimed the sex was consensual. Her lawyers would have had to prove that there had been no voluntary actions between her and the man for him to have been charged with rape. This clearly was never going to be possible because her drink had been spiked. She cannot remember any of it. She was convicted for consensual sex outside of marriage.
I am, going to finish on a marginally lighter note and share with you Thames Valley Police’s educational video on sexual consent.
Only the British would use tea!