This is how vulnerable they feel– A photographer’s take on sexual assault victims
When the Stanford rape incident (January 2015) came to light, a different side of the United States could be seen to the world. The rape incident took place after a Kappa Alpha fraternity party in the University campus. Brock Allen Turner (19 years) raped (finger penetrated) an unconscious female who was a stranger to him (Emily Doe, 22 years). Turner pleaded not guilty under the claim that it was consensual sex which took place behind the dumpster. The victim filed for rape because neither did she consent nor was she in her senses during the sexual act. Two Swedish-national students who were cycling in the vicinity, spotted the intoxicated Turner in the midst of the act. When they sensed that the victim (Doe) is unconscious; they chased the fleeing rapist and caught him. According to Turner’s version of the incident, he had gone near the dumpster to throw up, prior to which, he and Doe were engaged in consensual intimacy. The victim (Doe) has no recollection of what happened that night, let alone her giving the consent for sexual intercourse.
After 1 year 4 months and 5 days, Doe spoke for the first time about the incident and issued the statement of the century, “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.” The victim’s statement and this particular line was extensively used for media coverage and by the 18 bipartisan Members of USA Parliament. Turner has been registered for his lifetime, as a sex offender. However, there has been a justifiable furor over Turner serving only 3 months’ term in the jail and being released on account of ‘good behavior behind the bars’. There was a public outcry on the letter written by Turner’s father to the judge, asking him to be lenient for ’20 minutes of action’ his son indulged himself in. Turner is an extremely wealthy White American and a state level swimming athlete who studied in an Ivy League. His family fished out $150,000 as remuneration for this first bail, the day he got arrested for the crime in the year 2015. These facts are evidences enough for justice that is denied to the victim.
Having said the aforementioned, it is amazing how media, the American politicians prioritized the issue and gave it a collective outrage it deserves. A student photographer Yana Mazurkevich, from the New York based Ithaca College took the issue and gave it an unforgettable graphical representation into the vulnerable mind of the victim through the website and Facebook page of “Current Solutions”. The website helps the survivors share their stories of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. In the most aspired and sought-after country like the United States of America, the statistics on sexual violence are shocking. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey of the United States (2011) stated, “An estimated 43.9 percent women and 23.4 men experienced forms of sexual violence during their lifetimes which includes being made to penetrate, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, and noncontact unwanted sexual experiences.”
Mazurkevich through her pictures, covers the entire plethora of sexual violence instances which are the same in their terror, vulnerability and horror even though it takes place with varied people, race, color and sexual orientations.
It is very important to understand that rape is a serious and henious crime- not restricted to one country or one class of society. Thus, rape culture needs to be addressed by society as a whole, in every manner possible.
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