Sexual assault cases have been on the rise, and in response to this, students across the U.S. are leading protests against sexual violence on their campuses. The recent case of Brock Turner has brought a lot of attention to the issue, as it involved a student who was convicted for three felony counts of assault with intent to commit rape. His sentence? Six months in jail and probation after being found guilty at trial by a jury. This is an unacceptable outcome for such an atrocious crime!
In a time where police brutality against non-whites has been a dominating topic of discussion, assaults against women have gone mostly unnoticed. As a response, students at various universities are organizing protests against sexual violence on their campuses and calling for more awareness to be brought to this issue. The overall goal is to teach people how the system around them works and what they can do to make it more effective.
One such student is Marybeth Seitz-Brown of Connecticut College, an activist for sexual assault awareness that gave a speech at the school’s Take Back The Night March last month. According to Seitz-Brown: “it’s important for students both to know who their assailants are and to know that they can be held responsible for their actions.” Students participating in these protests are well-aware of the facts regarding sexual assaults. One study showed that one in five women will likely experience some form of sexual assault during their time at college, but only about 12 percent report it.
As a response to this case, activists are stepping up their game and are showing the world that sexual assault is a very serious issue. With hashtags like #carrythatweight, #whyistayed, and #yesallwomen becoming part of the larger discussion on how to end violence against women, it certainly has become publicized.
But this isn’t just something that should be confined to college campuses. Sexual assault is a global issue, and it happens in all different forms.This includes sexual violence in general, but also goes further by covering domestic violence, trafficking of women and forced prostitution, so-called ‘honor killings’, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices, and discrimination in law and practice.
The UN has noted that “violence against women is a problem of pandemic proportions.” One out of three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. It’s an issue that needs to be confronted head-on, and it’s one that more people should start talking about.
Another important note to make is the fact that male students are also victims of these crimes, and they need all the help possible to overcome their trauma and become more aware of what’s going on around them. It’s not just women who get assaulted or raped; men fall victim to this as well. They are not exempt from the struggle, they need to be included in this discussion, and their side of the story is sadly left out most of the time.
But there are things that people can do to help end sexual assault. Education is a big part of it; men should learn about what’s appropriate when it comes to the opposite sex. Women should be taught how to defend themselves if they find themselves in a compromising situation. Friends of both sexes need to know what warning signs indicate that something bad might happen. A big part is communication; knowing who you can talk to if something happens, having support systems in place for both genders and helping each other out with any issues that arise.
We need to change the way we think about women if we want to see this issue disappear. Women are just as valuable as men, they have just as much of a voice in society, and deserve an equal amount of respect. They should be able to do whatever they want without worrying for their safety or well-being, and all genders should be able to live in harmony. It’s time we started treating each other with the same amount of respect, regardless of gender or anything else that might separate us. Only once we can do this will people stop committing these despicable crimes, and women (and men) everywhere finally feel safe again.
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