Chakraborty: What Kesha’s ruling means for abuse victims

The Different Perspective

If you’ve been following at the news recently, you probably heard about Kesha’s court case along with the trending #FreeKesha. Friday, Feb. 19, the Manhattan Supreme Court ruled that Kesha could not leave her six-album contract with Sony, which meant continuing to work closely with producer Dr. Luke.

Kesha filed allegations against Dr. Luke accusing him of ongoing abuse for 10 years, including drugging and raping her. She wanted to continue making music under another record label to distance herself from Dr. Luke because of the constant physical and verbal abuse and the fact that she felt unsafe around him.

Judge Shirley Kornreich stated that there was a lack of evidence to support Kesha’s claims of sexual assault and that the court could not breach a contract that had been heavily negotiated.

Unsurprisingly, there were many unsavory responses to the entire legal case: Many claimed that Kesha was simply lying about the rape and some commented she should not have spoken out in the first place. It did not help that Dr. Luke had countersued, claiming Kesha had created false allegations simply to escape a rigid contract.

The scope of this case extends beyond just Kesha to all women who have ever experienced abuse and been afraid to verbalize concerns. For those who have voiced support for Kesha, this case is another instance where the victim of abuse is silenced while the abuser faces no consequences. People are getting the message that even though Kesha decided to publicize her emotional and physical trauma at the hands of an alleged rapist, she has still been ordered to work closely with him under contract.

By order of the court Kesha may not leave her current music label; even though this label—Sony—inevitably includes Dr. Luke. The implications of this ruling are chilling for those who have been taken advantage of or abused: Even if they were to take a stand and try to change things, they could very well be placed right back in close proximity with their alleged abuser.

Survivors of rape are already hesitant to step forward with their experiences—understandably so, as there is a stigma against rape victims. It is a horrifying possibility that they could lie, but more horrifying that a court could find “insufficient evidence,” and force victims to live with the fact that they were sexually assaulted as the perpetrator walks free.

The result of Kesha’s legal case does not encourage anyone to report sexual abuse, rather it serves as a deterrent. Are we not living in a progressive, modern society where women’s right are protected? If so, why is Kesha being forced back to a label where her abuser lurks even when she filed a lawsuit specifically to evade the ongoing rape and assault?

These are questions are most irking and make this case especially unjust for other victims of rape. Not only does the outcome of this legal case make Kesha look powerless, it highlights the inability of many women (and men) to remove themselves from toxic, abusive relationships, even when they have sought help.

This is a matter prevalent in the entertainment industry as well as general American society, and once again the legal system has failed to ensure a woman’s security, safety and pride by denying her the ability to cut ties with an abuser.

The image of Kesha after the ruling was announced—tears streaming down her face, broken, defeated—is an image that is resonating with society. It is alarming to think that this image could be the reason behind why more people begin to doubt their decisions to confront their abusers and to question whether they can break free of a vicious cycle.

Many fellow artists and fans have come out in support of Kesha, opposing Sony and the court verdict. Now is the time to talk, to use our voices to empower victims of such traumatic situations instead of negating their fears and disbelieving them.

Ankita Chakraborty is a second-year student majoring in biology and minoring in psychology.