Recently, Brock Turner’s name has become well-known throughout the United States, mostly thanks to social media. The sexual assault case he was involved in showcases the problems with how these cases are handled.
However, this isn’t something that’s only occurring in our country. The attitude towards sexual assault cases all over the world brings about controversy and differing opinions. Countries in Europe struggle with the same questions and conflicts within these types of cases.
In 2015, Brock Turner was involved in a court case which convicted him of three counts of felony sexual assault. He was accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year old woman after a party. He attended Stanford University and was a successful swimmer. He was originally indicted on five charges, but the two charges for rape were dropped after receiving the results of DNA tests.
His recommended sentence was six years in prison, already down from the 14 years he could have gotten from his convictions. However, the judge ruling his case only sentences him to six months. This, in itself, brought about much controversy. The judge said that a longer sentence would have “a severe impact on him,” to which many people replied that the rape had a severe impact on the victim.
What was even more controversial was the fact that Turner was released after only three months in jail. What could have been a 14-year sentence turned into a three-month sentence. Since then, social media has been in a constant debate about this case, as well as sexual assault cases in general, and how rape culture needs to change.
Even today, many people blame the women who are victims of rape. They are told that they were “asking for it” or dressed too suggestively. In the Brock Turner case, the victim was drunk. People still say that if the victim was too drunk, it was her fault. However, the law does state that one cannot consent while intoxicated. This is where the controversy comes in.
It is felt that, since this case was brought into the spotlight and the defendant got off so easily, other females will not want to speak up about their experiences. It brings about a culture of fear in terms of victims coming forward. They might feel there’s no point, or that they will be blamed and harassed. This is at the heart of the debate.
What About Europe?
Unfortunately, this is not just an American problem. Sexual assault happens all over the world, and is often met with the same controversy that surrounded the Brock Turner case.
It was recently discovered that Swedish police had covered up many reports of sexual assaults that happened at a music festival in 2014 and 2015. When these cases are not just handled poorly, but not even brought to the public’s attention, a disservice is being done to the women of the country and of the world. It is again reinforcing the idea that there’s no point in coming forward with a report of sexual assault.
In addition, over a hundred sexual assault complaints were filed in Germany after New Year’s Eve in 2015. In Europe, there is yet another problem. Many of these sexual assaults are thought to be performed by immigrants entering the country. Already a sensitive topic, the idea of these refugees causing pain and harming women brings much more controversy, which is one reason why police were tempted to cover up the acts.
On the other hand, Sweden has the highest number of reported rapes in Europe. Legal experts believe this is not because there are actually more rapes happening there, but instead because more victims are coming forward and reporting their assaults. Recently, Sweden has been applauded for their gender equality and higher awareness of sexual assault, showing significant improvements compared with the rest of the world when it comes to sexual assault.
The Role of Media
No matter what country these crimes are happening in, social media plays a huge role in the cases. Social media helps citizens share their thoughts and opinions on these controversies, as well as lobby for change if they feel inclined to.
However, for the defendants of these cases, social media can do a lot of harm. The blow-up in social media, especially with the Brock Turner case, most definitely had an effect on the public opinion of the case. The emotions and public case can easily play a part and make it impossible for the defendant to have a fair trial and have just the facts be heard.
The controversy and issues surrounding sexual assault cases are far from being resolved, but sparking a conversation about these problems can be the start to change. The Brock Turner case and these other cases from Europe are being brought into the public spotlight, allowing for a wave of change to begin.
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