Why is someone dubbed a ‘sexually violent predator’ only being sentenced to 3-10 years in prison? (Bill Cosby). Why did someone showing ‘no remorse for his crimes at all’ get only 5 years and 9 months? (Rolf Harris). Why is sexual assault still not being punished as the life-destroying act that it is? (the world over).

After Cosby’s trial this week, it continues to baffle me that though we are finally trialling predators in the public eye, their sentences feel as though they are given just to placate the survivors. Should we be looking more to life sentences for rape? I think we should.

Many people will disagree with me. How can you take away someone’s entire life because of one mistake that therapy can help them understand was wrong? In my eyes, it’s simple: because no amount of therapy will take away what they did to that other person. One moment of power, of sexual ‘pleasure’, for a rapist, a moment that they may not even remember, or that they may regret, is a moment that can destroy someone’s life forever.

We call people survivors now, which I hugely support, as we should be doing all we can to drive people away from believing that the world sees them as a victim. In using the term ‘survivor’, we give people agency in their own recovery. This is obviously important, as recovering from sexual assault can’t be done overnight, it can’t be done by taking pills, it is entirely autonomous. My issue is that, in using ‘survivor’, we are turning assault into something that people have survived, past tense, and not something that they are still enduring the consequences of.

To be graphic about it, sexual assault not only damages many aspects of your life at the time, but it can also destroy many future relationships you may have. I think that’s the issue with dubbing people as recovered, autonomous survivors. I don’t know if it’s something you can ever fully recover from, but it is something that you must try to cope with. Particularly for those who have been raped by penetration and, separately, enjoy sex with a partner via penetration, it isn’t something you can escape from.

It enrages me every time I see these predators receiving such, quite frankly, pathetic sentences for their crimes. Because when you lay hands on someone without their consent, you’re potentially giving them a life sentence to overcome; why should the same not become your punishment? I don’t mean to say an exact eye for an eye but I do believe that the punishment should be more proportional. If you’ve sentenced someone to a lifetime of suffering, should you not be condemned to equal loss of life’s pleasures? With the sentences that are given presently, the supposed ‘survivors’ are left suffering long after the culprits get out of prison. How is that justice?