World stands with Stanford rape victim

People from around the world are coming together to take a stand against sexual assault on women after a powerful statement was read out in court by the victim to her assailant.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A police mugshot of Brock Turner at time of his arrest.

Updated Jun 11, 2016

When she woke up at the hospital one morning in January 2015, she had pine needles in her hair, bruises on her elbow and back, and her underpants were missing.

The hospital staff told the unnamed 23-year-old she was sexually assaulted the night before.

After medical and legal formalities, she was asked to take shower and she was then sent home.

It could have just been one of the innumerable cases in which women are raped, but which are never talked about.

But a recent chain of events has helped it attract global attention.

The girl was raped at the Stanford University campus behind a dumpster while she was unconscious.

She passed out after consuming a lot of alcohol at a party and doesn't remember what happened next.

Twenty-year-old Stanford freshman Brock Allen Turner was caught forcing himself on her half-naked body.

He later told police he also didn't remember what happened because he was also drunk.

A trial followed, but it didn't get a lot of coverage until a powerfully-worded statement read by the girl to her assailant in court was published by BuzzFeed provoked interest on social media.

Turner hired an expensive attorney and fought the case instead of conceding and apologising, the woman said in the statement, which has been read over 12 million times according to BuzzFeed.

The full statement can be read here.

People have criticised mainstream publications for pictures like the one on the right which feature Brock Turner as a neat clean-shaven student compared to his mugshot on the left.

"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," the girl, whose identity hasn't been disclosed, said.

She says the case was clear but she was made to answer intimidating questions like:

"How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in."

In March this year, a jury found Turner guilty of three felony charges including sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

The maximum sentence for the crime is 10 years.

The girl's attorneys were hoping Brock would receive a sentence of at least 6 years.

But on June 2, a California judge caused further outrage after he announced the verdict, sentencing Turner to jail for only six months.

The girl's statement became public a day later.

Since then, many contradictions have surfaced in the way people react to rape incidents and victims.

People have talked about white privilege in the US and biased coverage in mainstream media.

It has been pointed out that newspapers unnecessarily mentioned Turner's extracurricular credentials: that he was an ace swimmer aspiring to participate in the 2016 Olympics.

Others criticised police for withholding Turner's mugshot, which was leaked on social media only when the trial came to an end and appears to be in sharp contrast to decent looking, baby-faced Turner images published in most newspapers.

The California judge, Aaron Persky, who according to CNN is also a Stanford graduate, had come under scathing attack for what many saw as a lenient judgement.

"A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others," the judge had said when giving the judgement.

Now people have started a campaign to get Persky removed from his position.

A petition on received over 100,000 signatures by Thursday morning.

Turner's father added fuel to fire with his own letter to the judge in which he said his son didn't deserve such a harsh punishment for "20 minutes of action."

Quoting a probation officer's report, CNN said Turner had apologised and was "sorry for what he put the girl and her family through during the trial."

A debate around sexism relating to the case emerged after it was pointed out that most of the comments on social media were coming from women.

The case also highlighted incidents of sexual assault on US campuses.

A Bureau of Justice Statistics report released earlier this year said that almost one in four female college students face sexual assault.

According to The New York Times, a small-time band named Good English has been banned from various venues after it surfaced that one of its members had supported Turner in a letter to the judge.

TRTWorld and agencies