After feeling outraged and angry at the Brock Turner rape trial in America, student Yana Mazurkevich launched a powerful photo campaign (Warning: Some of these images are quite violent, or graphic in nature.)
It’s hard not to feel angry about the Brock Turner rape trial. The student, who was found guilty of raping a woman behind a bin at Stanford University and sentenced to six months, was released three months early this week.
But now one photographer, Yana Mazurkevich, has channelled her anger and frustration at the judicial ruling into a powerful new photo campaign – called ‘It Happens’ – in a bid to raise awareness of sexual assault, and how it can happen to anyone.
‘The Brock Turner thing happened, and I thought, “OK, I’m going to release this series as a response to that… And then I saw on the news a few weeks ago [that Brock was] being released three months earlier than his original six months’ jail probation time. And I said that would be the perfect day to release [the series[ as a huge finger to his face.’
‘It was an accumulation of anger because I have a lot of friends — and personally, myself — who have dealt with sexual assault,’ Yana added in an interview with The Ithacan, where she works. ‘I wanted to bring that to light… I wanted to expand on diversity and gender equality, as well as race and ethnicity… I was reading the comments on what everyone has been saying, and a lot of the comments were, “Men get raped too,” and, “Women get raped by women,” and, like, “Why are all these women white?” I completely understand where people were coming from.’
These are a few images from Yana’s series – you can see the full campaign on the Current Solutions Facebook page. The pictures are posed by models – and the quotes are from emails received by the Current Solutions team, which aims to raise awareness of sexual assault.
‘I blacked out and just remember very short flashing images… I remember him asking me if I was on birth control, but I was too incoherent to talk. I was trying to explain that I wasn’t. We had sex anyway. I didn’t want to and I barely remember it.’
‘I was at a party once, sober, and two of my good female friends pulled me aside, telling me that someone needed help. They pulled me into this room and pinned me against the wall and started kissing me and taking my pants off, but I was able to push them off and leave. The two girls who were my friends claim that they don’t remember the incident since they were drunk.’
‘I can’t remember details or the order of things, but she was very, very aggressive. She left bruises all over me and I was bleeding the next morning. She held me down and forced a lot. I didn’t say no clearly, but I definitely didn’t agree to the aggressive actions she took. Lack of consent is not the presence of a no, it’s also the absence of a yes.’
‘He made me feel guilty if I didn’t do what he wanted. I remember on prom night, I was exhausted and just wanted to go home, but he insisted we mess around because that was the whole point of prom night, and that’s what we were supposed to do. I still wonder if he knew just how manipulative he was.’
‘When I was in high school, the only place to live for me was my uncle’s place. I thought I could trust them, but there were nights when I would wake up to one of them, the biological one, in my room, or he would sneakily try to touch my junk. I never really resolved it.’
‘I lost my virginity at a party when I was in middle school. He gave me a drink and I can’t really remember what happened after that. Just bits and pieces for the most part… but I couldn’t say no or push him off while he made me have sex with him. I woke up next to him and I was really sore but i couldn’t tell anyone what happened.’
‘I was tattooed by a guy and while he was tattooing me, he kept inserting his fingers up my vagina. He said he had to keep his hand there to keep the skin taut for tattooing. The most ironic part is that the tattoo is the symbol for female; I wanted the tattoo as a sign of feminism and got sexually assaulted in the process.’
‘We had been drinking and, by the end of the night, I had lost all control. I was falling in and out of consciousness. I remember waking up with him on top of me but I kept passing back out before I could do anything about it. I always thought it was my fault for getting too drunk.’
‘You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.’ – Stanford assault survivor