- Stanford University
- King of Hearts Creative Commons 3.0
In March, Brock Turner was convicted on three felony sexual assault counts and faced a maximum of 14 years in prison for raping an unconscious 23-year-old woman behind a dumpster outside of a Stanford fraternity party.
But Turner, a 20-year-old from Dayton, Ohio, was sentenced last week to six months in jail — a sentence many consider outrageous in its leniency.
Turner might have gotten away with the crime if two Stanford PhD students from Sweden, Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson, hadn't been cycling past the scene that night on Jan. 18, 2015. When they saw Turner on top of a woman and realized she seemed to be unconscious, they physically intervened.
When Turner tried to run away, Jonsson ran after him. The two friends pinned Turner down until the police arrived.
The survivor of the assault called these two Swedes "heroes" in a letter she read aloud to her assailant during his sentencing.
Now some Swedes are letting Arndt and Jonsson that they're proud of them for taking action.
That includes Swedish playwright and producer Hedda Krausz Sjögren.
Across social media, Sjögren says she sees Swedes showing "a little bit of pride in these two guys who decided to intervene" — even if we'd hope that any witness to a sexual assault would take some kind of action to stop it.
"I think it's unfortunately much too common," she says. "These two Swedish guys who intervened — of course it's great that they did it! — but isn't that what we should expect from everyone who sees something like that?"
Sjögren points out that this isn't just an American issue. It's a global one. Having lived in both the US and in Sweden, she's found "when cases like this happen, it shows up the norms that go under the radar," adding that she hopes "in any society, you couldn't take for granted that it's okay to violate somebody's physical integrity."
At the same time, Sjögren says that she has never heard of a rape being stopped before in the way Arndt and Jonsson did it.
"We've all heard more of the opposite," she says. "People are bystanders, don't take action and blame each other."
"It's very difficult to face up to the issues that go on right beneath our own nose, whether it happen in Sweden or in the US," Sjögren adds. "I think a lot of people can identify with both the perpetuator and the victim in this case. Of course it's sad and tragic, but possibly something good can come out of that as well. I'm sure things will be written about this. Even a play. Who knows."