How much is your bodily and mental integrity worth? Well according to the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial District: 60 days of jail, probation and approximately $2,000. After reading the Roundup’s article “Astorgas get 60 days jail, probation,” I was outraged. The case against the Astorga brothers for sexually assaulting an unidentified victim was moved from a felony to a misdemeanor because the case didn’t fulfill the necessary evidentiary requirements. As a former advocate for survivors of sexual violence in Wyoming, I am familiar with the difficulties of forensic documentation and evidence collection regarding sexual assault. However, I understand the meaning of consent. If the victim was in fact “blacked out” via alcohol, under Wyoming Statute 6-2-301, she was “physically unable to communicate unwillingness to act,” making the act nonconsensual.
I also understand the realities of the justice system – it is a system designed to protect perpetrators. The impact that these convictions have on the survivor is immeasurable. Instead of giving this woman a chance to heal and to begin living her life again, the court told this woman and her community that saying no is not enough. They continue to deny victims a voice. They tell women, “Be afraid. Protect yourself. Don’t drink. Fight back. And don’t worry, at the end of the day you will be fine.” They tell the community, “We tolerate this kind of behavior. We give our condolences to the perpetrator, not to the victim.”
I am writing to tell you, “You are not alone. I support you. I believe you.”
Amanda Blair, Gulu, Uganda, formerly of Big Piney