BY NATALIE ACCARDI
Justice is a myth.
I stand by that statement as long as 98 percent of rapists walk free for their crimes, according to The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network that compiled the U.S. Department of Justice’s data from 2013.
It has been awhile since I took civics, but last time I checked our criminal justice system is supposed to provide justice to people. Unless I am confusing my four years of studying the language of Latin and Greek mythology with what I assumed was common sense, than I think I am stating what should be blatant fact.
Every 107 seconds, an American age 12 or older is sexaully assaulted or raped, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013.
According to RAINN, 68 percent of sexual assaults are not reported. Kesha Rose Sebert, a well-known pop singer, bravely became part of the 32 percent who do speak out. On Feb. 20, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge reached the verdict that Sebert could not dissolve her six-album deal with Sony and the man she said raped her. The man who allegedly raped her is Luke Gottwald, a powerful producer for Sony. According to Sebert, the alleged rape occurred when she was an 18-year-old virgin; Sebert is now 28 years old. Following her sexual assault, Sebert said that she experienced subsequent abuse.
Sexual assault survivors do not always speak out because rape culture perpetuates the stigma that survivors must be lying or are in some way responsible for their assault. Survivors are told they should not have worn something, they should not have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that they should not have been walking down a street or had a body for people to assault. People will use analogies to put blame on survivors like you should not leave your car unlocked or leave the door open of your house, but a person is not an object. We are not cars or houses. Although, cars and houses will get more justice than people who were sexually assaulted.
Sebert did not speak out until 2014 when she decided to sue Gottwald. She was a scared teenager becoming a star. She was going up against someone who was rich and powerful. Top that off with rape culture, and you have a survivor feeling like she has no chance at justice. And on Feb. 20, Sebert was proved right. Justice has so far proved out of her grasp.
On Sebert’s official Facebook page, she wrote on Feb. 24 that the only thing she wanted was to pursue music without having to work with Gottwald.
“All I ever wanted was to be able to make music without being afraid, scared, or abused. This case has never been about a renegotiation of my record contract – it was never about getting a bigger, or a better deal,” Sebert said. “This is about being free from my abuser. I would be willing to work with Sony if they do the right thing and break all ties that bind me to my abuser.”
In the same post, Sebert wrote that she did not want her experience with speak out to discourage other survivors.
“Unfortunately I don’t think that my case is giving people who have been abused confidence that they can speak out, and that’s a problem. But I just want to say that if you have been abused, please don’t be afraid to speak out.”
The outpour of support from fans and celebrities has been tremendous. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to Sebert to help with any financial issues she may have. Despite what the court decided, Sebert continues to fight not only for herself, but for other survivors. Fans and celebrities have decided to stand with Sebert. I stand with Sebert too.
Our society’s collective attitude about sexual assault has served rapists and other perpetrators of sexual assault astoundingly well. I believe in justice as much as I believe that Pyramus and Thisbe’s tragic love is the reason mulberries turn dark purple when they are ripe.