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US Military Inaction Toward Rapists in Ranks Must Stop

War is dangerous for women, but not in the way you might think. It turns out a military servicewoman is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.

US Congresswoman Jane Harman opened her damming op-ed with images of a soldier being raped by her military physician during a routine gynecological exam, or of a recruit enduring multiple rapes at knife point by her fellow soldiers.

According to the Department of Defense, only 181 out of 2,212 reported sexual assaults are referred to court martial (criminal prosecution). Compare that to California, where 44 percent of reported rapes result in arrests. Representative Harman said that the "failure to address military sexual assault runs counter to those ideals and shames us all."

The reality that female soldiers must face terror in their own ranks is deeply disturbing. Hopefully the military, and Congress, will fiercely confront these unacceptable acts of brutality. If not, victims will think twice before reporting rape, and future perpetrators won't think twice before they attack.

Join The Conversation
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Harmony I would agree with you.
AKirstin AKirstin 9 years
This just doesn't surprise me, at all. Which is sad.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Steph...it's pretty clear why the military is not prosecuting enough of these cases. At least to me. Crimes in general go under reported and under prosecuted in the military. I know of people that were caught dealing drugs who got a slap on the hand. We are short on our resources. They aren't going to discharge someone unless they absolutely have to. Also the military is still an old boys club. It just is. Things are getting better, but sometimes it seems that they still don't know how to handle having women in the military. This is a generalization obviously.
NYFashionista NYFashionista 9 years
"I don't think anyone takes solace in numbers. What we do take solace in are facts, when making an accusation as serious as there is a military conspiracy to cover rape I EXPECT that to be followed up with facts, which it seems this article is a bit light on." - I understand and agree. However, I also believe it's our right to question the accuracy of these facts (especially the ones that Jennifer presented) and whether they truly tell the full story (something we all are doing I suppose). I like to question and learn more. I do believe our government hides more than we like to believe- every government does this. I think it's dangerous to think they give us the whole and honest truth as much as we'd like to believe they do, and history has taught us this time and time again. Like I said before, this issue is not and will not be given much attention because we wish to view our military as heroic and strong. Stories like this would destroy that image. I, for one who fully support the troops, find it difficult to sit back and believe everything possible is being done to prevent rape/sexual assault against both men and women. Cine- your comment is interesting because I've heard that argument/explanation being used time and time again for many similar situations around the world. I most certainly don't deny there are women who do this, but I find it difficult to believe thousands would be doing this, especially with their individual reputations on the line. I know a woman in my office who was a victim of sexual assault (and mind you she had witnesses!) and yet people treated her as though she used the law suit to get ahead and get more money. There's a lot at stake for someone to file such charges against their peers. It's really a shame when a few women ruin the credibility for so many others. Anyway, thanks to those who shared a different view. I understand (and agree) that we must abide by the law that you are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, in the case of rape/sexual assault, that is usually a difficult crime to prove.
stephley stephley 9 years
In a couple of hours, we've condemned rapists in general, parsed the numbers and talked about women who lie. But we haven't come near questioning the behavior of the accused men (or gangs of me) or why it may be true that the military is not prosecuting enough of them. They can't all be written off as psychopaths and all boys had mothers at some point. The violence that comes from men and women being in close quarters rarely starts with the woman.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
HAHA I know what you meant. :)
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
I meant to write "Hi" not "I". Silly me.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
I harmony! :hug: Harmony, I DESPISE when women make false accusations on anything sexually related. Cabaker I agree. It is a recipe for disaster.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
My point is there will always be problems with men and women together in close quarters. Add to that the stress they are under and its a recipe for disaster.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Honestly, if it were up to me, I'd separate all men and women in the military. The most successful units I know of are the ones that are men only.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Hi Cabaker, Cine! :WAVE: Cine-I never experienced a woman using a fake rape story to get ahead in the military...but sexual harassment on the other hand....absolutely. I hate those women. It's because of them that people make statements like your military friend did. That sort of thing should be taken completely seriously and never used to get ahead. It's sad that when a woman has the courage to come forward about a legitimate situation that some people do not take them seriously.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
"maybe it shows that the military does not take the women seriously enough when it comes to sexual assaults." I can see that.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
So I am going to say something that will probably get people mad, but bare in mind that this is what a military person told me and I am just relaying his words He said that it is well known to stay away from military women. That they fabricate rapes and sexual assaults frequently for money, or advancement (I do not know how either would work). I am not saying this is true, but it is interesting how some women are perceived in the Military. Is it true, or maybe it shows that the military does not take the women seriously enough when it comes to sexual assaults.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Harmony I was hoping you'd come and give us your insights!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
NYF - Not all crimes that are committed against a servicemember are covered by the UCMJ, the ones that are not include if the servicemember was raped by someone not in the military. There is no consipracy when it comes to that, those are the facts of the UCMJ. As per your insufficient evidence quote, this is what I was trying to get at, albeit unsuccessfully when I mentioned PTSD... my thinking was PTSD could cause bad recollections which in turn could cause a varying testimony which in turn could cause dropping of charges for insufficient evidence. I don't think anyone takes solace in numbers. What we do take solace in are facts, when making an accusation as serious as there is a military conspiracy to cover rape I EXPECT that to be followed up with facts, which it seems this article is a bit light on. Remember, we're innocent until proven guilty. Not the other way around. I think the Duke case should have taught us all to remember that. As for how many women or men don't come forward, well I don't know that we'll ever know the facts on that since, as stated, they are not coming forward.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
I want to add to harmony's tips. Fight back like there is no tomorrow! It is a big misconception to be complacent. Bite, kick or whatever you have to do. Rapists look for what they perceive as easy targets.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
The thing is if the violated person doesn't get a rape kit done right after the initial attack there is no physical evidence. A rape kit is extremely unpleasant and many have said it almost feels like being raped again. Some don't get it for that reason and some wait before coming forward. So if there is no physical evidence it becomes a he said/she said...he said/he said...or she said/she said situation. It's not as easy to prove and explains some of those numbers. AND that's just rape. Sexual Assault is even more of a gray area. That being said I completely agree that the military goes too easy on the individuals that are proven to be offenders. I was one of five witnesses in a case of sexual assault where a certain male assaulted three different girls in the same evening. Even with that amount of witnesses he got off scott free. It pissed me off so much that I joined the rape prevention team on base and participated in counseling and seminars. A couple of tips for anyone that has been raped (military or not). Come forward immediately. Do not take a shower or bath. It removes important physical evidence. Do not change your clothes. It does the same. Treat yourself like a crime scene and try to leave everything how it is.
NYFashionista NYFashionista 9 years
hm....I guess some of us take comfort in numbers? I'm still not seeing how this helps some of you feel as though the military has taken enough action on this matter. Jennifer- Sorry for not following your calculations but where exactly did you get the 1,510 cases - that were handled by civilian authorities "as per the wishes of the vicitims"? And if I am blind and am just missing that number, I wonder why they would be handled by civilian authorities and not the military? Is it not the military's responsilbilty to handle crimes that occur within? Does it make their numbers appear "better"? I'm still astounded by the number of cases that were thrown away due to "insufficient evidence" and find it demeaning to not even take that into account before concluding the military has done all it could do in punishing perpetrators. I would also like to know what qualifies as "sufficient evidence"... I'm also curious as to just how many cases of the 749 (1,040 minus 300 for the cases that were thrown out for "insufficient evidence") resulted in inaction due to the perpetrator not being identified by the victim (as it is not that difficult to disguise yourself). We also fail to consider how many women and men may not report such abuse due to shame or how they will be treated by fellow soliders once cases are made public. I'm interested in knowing how the military handles that situation if at all.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Good point MandyJoBo
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
I'm actually surprised this turned out to be such a divisive topic. I think we can all agree that serious accusations of sexual assault should be addressed. I haven't done the statistic gathering myself, but when a member of Congress points to what she considers a systemic failure to protect the brave women in our military, my ears perk up. I would hope that only good could come from increasing awareness.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I think it's important to remember that there are psychotic people in every profession, the military just being one of them. This isn't military-related anymore than it is physician-related in the case of the gynecologist raping his patient. But yes, it does happen. I know someone who was gang raped by fellow soldiers. It happened around 20 years ago; this is nothing new. It's nothing new that there are mentally-disturbed humans that do horrible things to others. It's depressing that anyone anywhere, military or civilian, doesn't get the justice they deserve. Something needs to be done about it.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Wow great detective work Jennifer!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Oops, sorry make that 887 out of 2,688 cases dropped due to insufficient evidence. Sorry, I was switching from the 2,212 listed in the post to the 2,688 in the article Stephey linked to. Percentages I put in were correct, though. Thanks, cine_lover.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Thanks for clearing up all the information jennifer!!! :highfive: for you!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well that is good news stephley. For men or women it does take an incredible amount of courage to speak out. It is difficult for each for different and over lapping reasons but never the less an incredible burden to carry.
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