August 31, 2016
Contact: Amy Lebowitz, Camino PR / 212-255-2575

Early Brock Turner release should be catalyst to tackle rape culture

Turner is exception, not rule, in serving any jail time after conviction

NEW YORK — On Friday, Brock Turner, the 21-year-old Stanford student convicted of sexual assault in a high-profile case, is set to leave Santa Clara County Jail after serving just three months of an initial six-month sentence. Phoebe Schreiner, U.S. country director of global human rights group Breakthrough, released the following statement in response:

“While there rightfully is much attention on and outrage about Brock Turner’s short sentence, the fact is that most rapes go unpunished. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, only six rapists of every 1000 will spend time in jail. That means Turner is the exception, not the rule; most rapes are never reported, let alone lead to arrest, conviction or incarceration. This needs to change.

“Turner’s early release from jail is the direct result of a culture that promotes rape. Right now, individuals, institutions and structures that perpetuate a culture of sexual violence are rarely brought to justice. This extends beyond the criminal justice system and into popular consciousness. Rape culture is automatically assuming a celebrity or star athlete accused of rape is innocent and his accuser is lying to get attention. It’s subjecting rape survivors to continual scrutiny, shame and doubt when they gather the courage to report their assaults. It’s brushing aside allegations of sexual violence if they conflict with dominant narratives of student athletes or young men with ‘promising futures.’ Because of rape culture, survivors are pressured to remain quiet about rape rather than speak out.

“Breakthrough activists are working to challenge rape culture as it occurs in their own lives. Let’s all take rape allegations seriously, advocate for systemic change and end the culture of rape.”


Breakthrough is a global human rights organization working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. Our cutting-edge multimedia campaigns, community mobilization, agenda-setting and leadership training equip men and women worldwide to challenge the status quo and take bold action for the dignity, equality and justice of all.