In the wake of the Stanford rape case, where former Stanford student-athlete Brock Turner was handed a very lenient six-month jail sentence for sexual assault charges, one photographer is using her craft to demonstrate the ways women are blamed for sexual assault and rape. Yana Mazurkevich has created the "Sexual Assault Series" to send a message about where society places fault when women are raped.
Also being called the "Dear Brock Turner" series, Mazurkevich's photography project is being showcased through Current Solutions, a student-run sexual assault and gender violence awareness organization where Mazurkevich works as an in-house featured artist.
The photos are graphic and disturbing, depicting women in their underwear, splattered with paint (in some cases red paint seemingly intended to resemble blood), and holding dry erase board markers with messages such as "I should know how to protect myself" and "My skirt was too short." In some of the photos, arms coming from behind the bodies of the women cover their mouths, hold their necks, or grab their shoulders.
In a statement emailed to Complex by Current Solutions, the organization's Public Relations and Branding Director Hannah Joslin said of the project,
Not only have we gotten people wanting to share their stories, but we have also gotten a major response from people in the community telling us that they love the stories we are sharing to help spread awareness, asking how they can help and get involved. People have expressed that they too believe this is an issue worth talking about.
Regarding the project, Mazurkevich told Complex over email:
[K]new from the start I wanted to photograph the subject’s “gaze," which to me is the most eye-catching and moving aspect in any photograph. It’s sort of like a silent cry for help through the subject’s eyes. It immediately confronts the viewer and draws you to look for an expression, which I aimed to capture absolutely none, because when an assault happens, not only do you feel a thousand emotions all at once, you also feel absolutely nothing. I wanted to do it in a confrontational manner (with the women staring emotionless at the viewer,) because this is an issue that needs to be confronted, and not just glanced at.
Public outrage over the Brock Turner trial ensued when Turner's father defended his actions, saying that his son should not be punished for only "20 minutes of action," and later when Turner himself gave a statement essentially blaming a culture of partying in college for his crimes.