Ignoring Sexual Assault

Disclaimer: this is largely an opinion piece and should be treated as such in criticism and evaluation.

Brock Turner was let out of jail after three months for good behavior. How could three months of good behavior stand testament against what he put his victim through that night? I wish I could say that this surprised me, but it didn’t. It seems that members our society, especially the people in power, have a habit of avoiding acknowledging of male aggression towards female citizens. Especially if the attackers are white males. Even if the attacker rapes a woman behind a dumpster while she’s unconscious.

This incident is so horrible that it must seem like a fluke. Many people I talk to say the news focuses only on the bad, and that there is a lot of good out there. That may be true, but the fact that they’re reporting on it means the bad is still out there. Brock Turner did rape someone, behind a dumpster, while she was unconscious. And he got out of jail after three months. Whether or not the news focuses on this does not change the fact that it has happened.

Sacramento, where I currently live, is ranked as one of the top cities for sex trafficking incidents our nation. Yet, many of my friends do not know this. One guy, I told responded with “but they’re not kidnapped right? I mean, it’s different than sex trafficking in other countries.” Yes the are kidnapped, though not as much as in the cities of other countries. Pimps and traffickers often use other forms of coercion. For some reason, people see coercion as less sex-trafficky, and the victims of this sort of “sex trafficking” aren’t perceived as experiencing the same type of turmoil as kidnapped victims. This belief so is so far from the truth. Sure, the methods of obtaining victims are different, but this is still sex trafficking. According to WEAVE (a nonprofit crises intervention service for Sacramento County), sex-trafficking victims in Sacramento are sold into it through people that they trust such as parents of boyfriends or husbands, or they’re put through conditional abuse until they accept it, they are bribed, and yes they are even kidnapped.

Why is it so hard to believe that Sacramento, so white and American, has sex trafficking as a prevalent issue? Why must these victims be kidnapped to be considered proper victims? I believe the media has something to do with it. Look at movies such as Taken (2008) where Liam Neeson’s, or rather Bryan Mill’s, daughter and her friend as kidnapped from their hotel room in Paris. Both are white (surprise!), but the virginal one, Bryan Mill’s daughter is saved and lives, and her apparently slutty friend dies. There simply aren’t any movies about people in Sacramento being coerced into sex trafficking–but just because there isn’t a movie doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening.
This leads to another point, as a female member of society, you must be virginal to be considered a victim. More than that, you must be innocent. I think that has a lot to do with why sex trafficking in the United States is ignored as a crime. People see prostitutes, thus criminals, not victims who were coerced into it. I think this is why Brock Turner was let out on three months after “good behavior.” Because his victim drank that night–because it happened at a party and parties, as spaces, have been normalized as places that sexual assault happens. Therefore, she is not “innocent” and Turner is let off the hook, at least by our law system.

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