More and more often, when I read the news I see reports of sexual violence. In my own country, the United States, and in countries all over the world people are subjected to harassment, rape, and murder because of their genders and sexualities. People are forced into marriages and sexual relationships, prostituted and trafficked. People are denied contraception, forced into pregnancies and abortions, and unwillingly sterilized.
More and more often, when I read the news I see reports of perpetrators of sexual violence going unpunished for their crimes.
To use a recent example, rapist Brock Turner was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault. In addition to registering as a sex offender, he could have served fourteen years in prison for these charges, but he was only sentenced to six months and only served three. Judge Aaron Persky stated that a longer prison sentence would have “a severe impact” on Turner.
Turner’s case is exceptional—not because of the relative slap on the wrist Turner received, but because his case had eyewitnesses and went to court.
There are so many cases of sexual violence that do not have witnesses and do not go to court. Our failure to hold perpetrators accountable is unacceptable.
However, I believe that our societies can change.
I work for this change by speaking out. I work for this change by voting for representatives that are concerned with these issues and contacting representatives who could be doing more. I work for this change by supporting and donating to organizations that help those impacted by sexual violence. I work for this change by listening to the voices of others, educating myself about perspectives and experiences that are different from mine, and striving to live with empathy.
I ask you to work for this change with me.
If you are able to speak out, participate in your government, or donate to charities, please do so. But whether or not you are able to do those things, I ask you to work for this change with me by listening to different voices, educating yourself, and being empathetic.
Together, we can make our world a more peaceful place.
Age 22, United States of America