On April 20, 2012, Ched Evans, then a player for Sheffield United Football Club, was sentenced to five years in prison for the alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in the Welsh town of Rhys. He was released from prison after serving half of his sentence. Evans was subsequently allowed by Sheffield United to train with the club again.
This decision led to national outrage, as well as club patrons – such as Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill – to threaten to end all association with the club should Evans be offered a full-time contract. In response to this public reaction, Sheffield United retracted their offer for Evans to train with the team.
While many people were infuriated by Sheffield United allowing Evans to train with them, there were those who took the stance that everyone deserves a second chance.
At first I was torn when thinking about this. I agreed that anyone can make a mistake and that people should be allowed to redeem themselves, but when thinking about the nature of Evans’ crime I came to the conclusion that he doesn’t deserve to simply pretend as if what he did never happened, and have others do the same. The victim certainly won’t.
When a horrible act such as rape is committed, you don’t get to forget what you did. Of course it is up to the discretion of specific individuals and organizations whether or not to hire or associate with the perpetrator, but they also have every right to know what this person has done and choose to stay away from the person.
Instead of focusing on giving convicted rapists a second chance, we should be focusing on making sure the ones who have gotten away with it are properly punished for what they have done and to ensure they understand the gravity of their actions.
When working on the online exclusive article Unwanted and Unwelcome, for the past few months I couldn’t help but feel anger that in the instances of Scarlett and Grant the perpetrators got away with it, and thus, thought what they did was acceptable. Sending a girl texts threatening to rape her is far from ok, groping and popping a middle school girl’s bra strap in class is far from ok, and performing oral sex on someone while they are sleeping is far from ok.
When these atrocities go unpunished, or when people are allowed to go on living like they never happened, it takes away from the gravity of what they have done.
Admittedly, some of the perpetrators in these articles were students, so while I don’t think they should be allowed to forget what they did, they should not be treated with the same harshness, in terms of legal repercussions, that Evans deserves.
However, for people like comedian Bill Cosby (if the recent allegations of sexual abuse are indeed true) it is an absolute disgrace that they get to continue to live life without paying the consequences for what they did.
When we don’t properly punish extreme incidents of sexual misconduct people will continue to think these things are ok, and that they won’t be punished.
In an ideal world, people’s own consciences would be enough to tell them this kind of behavior is not ok and to prevent incidents like these from happening.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. The only way to stop these things from happening is making sure the perpetrators are met with the harshest of punishments and forced to remember the heinous crimes they have committed for the rest of their lives.