Rape has become an epidemic, where victims are blamed and perpetrators walk free. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, out of every 1,000 rape cases, only nine assaulters will be incarcerated.

What image comes to mind when you hear the word rapist? Probably a large broad man, someone you have no relationship with, wearing all black, probably in his mid to late sixties. While I'm sure this is what most of us like to imagine they look like, this is not always the case. What if you learned the the young white male living in the million dollar home across the street was just as likely to rape you as anyone else? Would it make matters worse if I told you that he would most likely get away with it?

What is it about the rich teenage boy with a bright future ahead of him that makes him acceptable to avoiding jail time for rape? Maybe it's their ability to hire the top of the line lawyers or the fact that the average judge is a white male, which provides a feeling of remorse to be given to the young male who assures this was a one time mistake. All of these are surely strong factors, but the one that seems to appear the most in rape allegation cases is the fact that wealthy males have an inability to have a grand old time in jail. I know this sounds crazy, jail is meant to be a punishment, it shouldn't be enjoyable. I wish that this was something I made up to better my argument, but these are valid statements.

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According to Time magazine Robert H. Richards IV was convicted of raping his toddler daughter, but avoided any jail time. Richards’ defense attorney argued that he would "not fare well” in jail. Right, how can I not agree, we wouldn't want him to be miserable serving time for the crime he committed. These words infer that only those who will have a splendid time in jail should be incarcerated, not just those who are guilty.

According to the Los Angeles Times Brock Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious girl behind a dumpster and was given six months in jail,and then released after three for good behavior. What was the reasoning for the six year sentence to be whittled down to six months? Judge Aaron Persky was worried about the “severe” impact prison would have on Turner. I guess you can call that a fair statement. One would truly be impacted when they find out they won't be able to sip their five dollar starbucks or actually might be told “no” for once.One would have to imagine though if he would have recognized the definition of “no” as it was screamed by the girl he raped if only his parents had taught him the meaning. Another reason he was let out early was that the judge felt he held true remorse. Well, that's true if you call blaming alcohol and promiscuity for the incident remorse. But again, we all know teenage boys will be teenage boys, right? There really isn't anything we can do to stop it.

Wrong. By allowing boys with money to abuse their wealth we are forgetting one simple thing. Rape is rape. It is not getting off early because you have a bright future ahead or you don't appear to be a danger to anyone else. But why should anyone care, chances are it won't happen to them. Wrong again.

Former President Barack Obama announced that “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years.” This doesn't even take account the 80 plus years women spend out of college. So ladies, take a look at your four closest friends, one of you will most likely be assaulted. Men, you guys matter to, imagine the five females that matter to you the most, maybe a friend, daughter, or sister, and remind yourself that you may see their assaulter walking free on the streets one day.

The only way to end this epidemic is to encourage prosecution.Start locally and push for a detailed action plan to be taken against all cases of rape. From there go to state level and then national level to ensure that the country has a minimum sentence for any and all sexual assaults, allowing justice to be served to all victims. A slap on the wrist will not ensure that an assaulter will not force himself onto anyone again, but years locked up will.

Kayla Miedrzynski will be a senior at Westfield High School this fall.