ITHACA, NY – To “commemorate” the release of Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who was convicted of sexual assault and served just three months in jail, an Ithaca College student created a gallery of powerful and disturbing photographs exploring the many manifestations of sexual assault.
Last year, Turner became a symbol of rape culture, privilege and the disparities in our legal system. He was apprehended by two bystanders after he was found sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster near a fraternity house in Jan. of 2015.
Critics called attention to the way that the case was handled, from the way that news reports highlighted the student athlete’s impressive swim times to the fact that the judge sentenced Turner to six months in jail and three years of probation in order to not ruin the young man’s future, while many others with similar offenses — often people of color — received no such leniency.
Ithaca College student Yana Mazurkevich created a photo series entitled “It Happened” that features nine images detailing the disturbing realities of sexual assault. According to Current Solutions, the advocacy group which worked with Mazurkevich to publish the photo series, the collection is meant to show “that sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime, without warning and without reason.”
Each photo features a person being sexually assaulted in some way. The situations represented are diverse: both victims and perpetrators are people of various sexes, sexual orientations and ethnicities. Locations are varied as well, including dorm rooms, public bathrooms, offices, locker rooms and alleyways.
While the faces of the attackers are obscured, in each photo the victim stares directly into the camera. It’s difficult to express that stare in words — it’s some cross between blankness, pleading and accusation.Each photo also includes a note on the ways that sexual assault can happen: “It happens unexpectedly.” “It happens with anyone.” “It happens without a reason.”
Mazurkevich told BuzzFeed News she wanted to portray the subjects as lifeless but in a way that allows the viewer to realise the subjects are real people. The photos were her way of saying, “Look. Look at this and don’t even try to ignore it because it’s right there in front of you to stare at,” BuzzFeed reports.
The final photo is a recreation of the victim in the Brock Turner case after her assault — a young woman, lying disheveled next to a dumpster, underwear around her ankles. On the dumpster in bold letters: “It happened.”
(Featured image cropped from photo by Yana Mazurkevich)