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End the Silence on Sexual Assault

The university demographic rose to its feet in protest over the appallingly lenient sentence for Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer, who in January 2015 raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. What was even more shocking was Turner’s parents defence of his actions, claiming how the poor boy had lost his appetite and seemed depressed after violently assaulting a girl with no recollection of the events until she was told. After being sentenced to a menial 6 months in prison, Turner was released after only 3.

As a society we have become desensitized to the act of sexual assault, an inherent factor of rape culture. Although most of the high profile cases have been in the USA, it would be naïve to believe this is a solely American issue. A Telegraph survey in 2015 showed that one in three UK female students will be sexually assaulted or abused while on campus. The Ministry of Justice released a report in 2014 that stated female students in full time education are at a higher risk of sexual violence than the general female population. You ask, with statistics like these, why isn’t this making headline news? Almost half of the women assaulted did not report the ordeal because of the fear of victim blaming.

In the new cutting edge documentary “The Hunting Ground”, the shocking extent of sexual assault on US college campuses is brought to light, with intimate personal accounts and mind blowing statistics. But what is even more disturbing is the college administrations dismissal of the claims and blatant victimisation, firing out patronising questions like “Were you drunk?” “Were you wearing a short skirt?” “Do you think he likes you and got the wrong message?”. These administrators are supposed to be protecting their students instead of adding to the emotional abuse and conviction that it is the victim’s fault for being assaulted.

The worst part? These rapists are more than likely to rape again, so when university officials don’t remove them from the campus they are putting other students lives at risk and adding to the problem. Unless these actions are exposed, nothing will change and students will continue to be assaulted on a daily basis. We know that rape victims are dropping out of university, becoming depressed and even ending their lives yet university statistics show more expulsions for cheating on an exam than sexual assault.

Freshers week is supposed to be one of the best of the academic year but it is during this time that sexual predators attack the most. At university it is not the man in the dark alley that will attack you, it will be someone you know from class or halls. When you are vulnerable and don’t have many close friends you can rely on, you are easily isolated and can end up trusting the wrong people. Her Campus hopes this article is a reminder to stay safe during your time at uni.

The Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services number: 01392 204174

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