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Dec 12 2011

Who is the enemy here?

To think I had to learn about horror stories going on in the US military from the British press. It seems that our military shares some of the same attributes as the Catholic church — exclusivity, privilege, and a culture that rejects criticism — and has some of the same vices: sexual predators flourish within it.

Rape within the US military has become so widespread that it is estimated that a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be attacked by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. So great is the issue that a group of veterans are suing the Pentagon to force reform. The lawsuit, which includes three men and 25 women (the suit initially involved 17 plaintiffs but grew to 28) who claim to have been subjected to sexual assaults while serving in the armed forces, blames former defence secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates for a culture of punishment against the women and men who report sex crimes and a failure to prosecute the offenders.

Why would any woman want to serve in the military, given the statistics? Of course, that might be part of the reason rape culture thrives: there are plenty of military men who detest and diminish the contributions of women.

Last year 3,158 sexual crimes were reported within the US military. Of those cases, only 529 reached a court room, and only 104 convictions were made, according to a 2010 report from SAPRO (sexual assault prevention and response office, a division of the department of defence). But these figures are only a fraction of the reality. Sexual assaults are notoriously under-reported. The same report estimated that there were a further 19,000 unreported cases of sexual assault last year. The department of veterans affairs, meanwhile, released an independent study estimating that one in three women had experience of military sexual trauma while on active service. That is double the rate for civilians, which is one in six, according to the US department of justice.

Beyond the statistics, there are the stories. I’m sure the rapists in the military are the minority, but they are taking advantage of a culture that refuses to acknowledge their existence — that is more willing to punish and silence the victims than the perpetrators.

Stories such as Weber’s are commonplace. On mydutytospeak.com, where victims of military rape can share their experiences, there are breathtaking tales of brutality and mistreatment. Only 21 years old, and weeks into her military training, Maricella Guzman says she ran to tell her supervisor in the hours after her rape at a military boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. “I burst into his office and said, ‘I need to speak to you,’ ” explains Guzman, now 34, and a student at a college in Los Angeles studying psychology, who talks about many lost years when she couldn’t function as a result. “One of the procedures if you want to speak to someone in the navy is you have to knock three times on the door and request permission to speak. But I didn’t do that. I was too upset. So my supervisor said ‘Drop’, which means push-ups. So I did the push-ups. But I was still in tears. I said, ‘I need to talk to you.’ He said ‘Drop’ again. Every time I tried to say anything, he made me do push-ups. By the time I was composed in the way he wanted me to be, I couldn’t say anything any more. I just couldn’t.” After that, Guzman didn’t try to tell anyone for another eight years.

Rape culture doesn’t hurt just women, either. The statistics on men being raped are also horrific.

But military rape is not only a women’s issue. According to the Veterans Affairs Office, 37% of the sexual trauma cases reported last year were men. “Men are even more isolated than women following rape,” Bhagwati says. “Because it has an even bigger social stigma.”

There is an interesting discussion of why rape is such a huge problem in the American military.

“We looked at the systems for reporting rape within the military of Israel, Australia, Britain and some Scandinavian countries, and found that, unlike the US, other countries take a rape investigation outside the purview of the military,” explains Greg Jacob, policy director at the Service Women’s Action Network. “In Britain, for example, the investigation is handed over to the civilian police.

“Rape is a universal problem – it happens everywhere. But in other military systems it is regarded as a criminal offence, while in the US military, in many cases, it’s considered simply a breach of good conduct. Regularly, a sex offender in the US system goes unpunished, so it proliferates. In the US, the whole reporting procedure is handled – from the investigation to the trial, to the incarceration – in-house. That means the command has an overwhelming influence over what happens. If a commander decides a rape will not get prosecuted, it will not be. And in many respects, reporting a rape is to the commander’s disadvantage, because any prosecution will result in extra administration and him losing a serviceman from his unit.”

There’s the start of a solution. The Pentagon claims that the problem of sexual assault in the military is now a “command priority” — but will they take the necessary actions to correct it, or will they turtle up and make it even more of an in-house process? I’d bet on the latter, given their history.

I also wonder, given the brutality and neglect with which some American soldiers are allowed to treat their comrades-in-arms, is it a surprise that they treat the people in the countries we occupy with brutality? Even disregarding the inhumanity of the rape behavior that is tolerated, I think it is also counterproductive to the long-term aims of our military.

47 comments

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  1. 1
    jamessweet

    . In the US, the whole reporting procedure is handled – from the investigation to the trial, to the incarceration – in-house.

    I’m noticing a theme here…

    Hint: Handling criminal investigations in-house is a virtual guarantee that it won’t be done effectively. Thanks, and good night.

  2. 2
    situsinversus

    The military is counterproductive to the long-term aims of humanity.

  3. 3
    Didaktylos

    It is an inescapable fact that everybody, no matter how altruistic they claim to be, will hold others as being of less worth than themselves. If somebody can be indoctrinated to regard themselves as being of no worth as an individual …

  4. 4
    gyonis

    I’m sorry PZ, but where did you expect to hear about this? US media? You’re not serious?

  5. 5
    SallyStrange

    I’ve been following this story since 2003 or 2004, when Salon.com did an expose on it. So, you know, some US outlets will tell you about it. Just not the mainstream ones.

  6. 6
    Alverant

    I remember hearing that eliminating religious discrimination in the military was also a command priority. Whatever happened to that?

    Que the conservative media blaming the repeal of DADT on the percentage of men being raped in 3..2..1..

  7. 7
    csrster

    And if this is how they’re treating their comrades in arms then it’s no surprise that they’re treating the local civilians the same way or worse.

  8. 8
    Rich Woods

    It will be interesting to see if the figures for reported (and estimated unreported) sexual assaults drop as the US Army continues its evangelisation process.

    Anyone want to take any bets?

  9. 9
    Bronze Dog

    I’m glad that the British media brought some more attention to the issue. Now we need to convince the US media to grow a spine and put pressure on the issue. That’s not going to be easy when fluff pieces about the next celebrity scandal are so much easier.

    I’m sick of rape culture being exposed and then forgotten about before heads start metaphorically rolling.

  10. 10
    Sour Tomato Sand

    My prediction is that they will continue to try to fix the problem by foisting more sexual harassment and assault prevention classes on us. We already have these classes several times a year. I’m wondering if I could find the latest video they’re using for it online. In this instructional video, they actually hired actors to play out a whole scenario (unusually high budget for Army training videos).

    In this scenario, a female Soldier is raped by a platoon-mate. They show her talking to the Chaplain about it (notice, not law-enforcement. In the Army, the Chaplain is one of only a few people who is allowed to keep the assault secret if you ask him to. The others who can do so are health care professionals, mental health professionals, and the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Everyone else has a duty to report it.) Anyway, naturally, everyone in the unit knows about it, so the next scene is a couple of Soldiers playing pool. Apparently one of these two Soldiers was present at the party when the aforementioned rapist plied his victim with alcohol to the point where she no longer knew where she was or what she was doing, and the Soldier who was present feels guilty for not doing anything to stop it.

    So anyway, this Soldier who feels guilty goes and tells his supervisor about it and gets berated and yelled at by the supervisor for not having done anything.

    Cut to the next scene, this soldier is at another party and notices another predator trying to ply a victim with alcohol and take her home, and intervenes. Yay. Happy ending, no one is raped, soldier feels better about ignoring a rape occuring, right?

    Here was my problem with it:

    The soldier was portrayed as “saving [the would-be rapist] from himself”. There was no exhortation to do anything about the fact that this guy just tried to rape a person. The whole take-home point of this seemed to be that someone in your unit is going to try to rape someone else in your unit, but that doesn’t make them a bad person. They actually used the analogy of taking the keys away from a drunk driver.

    So… according to the Department of the Army, anyway, being a rapist is like being too drunk to know you shouldn’t be driving apparently.

  11. 11
    Sour Tomato Sand

    Hey, I found it!

  12. 12
    SallyStrange

    Wow, Sour Tomato Sand, that is rather sickening.

    Really, none of this is going to change until we start taking this seriously. It’s not that I think that jail is a solution, but sending rapists to trial and putting them in jail shows that, as a society, we value the lives of rape victims more than we do those of rapists. As it stands, it’s the other way around.

  13. 13
    Rey Fox

    I think it is also counterproductive to the long-term aims of our military.

    Frankly, just the phrase “long-term aims of our military” gives me the heebie-jeebies. Does anyone know what they are? And are they good in any way?

  14. 14
    chigau (違う)

    The Military™ should be a tool of the Government™.
    It should not have any long-term aims of it’s own.
    (blue)

  15. 15
    Pteryxx

    Actually, US mainstream media has covered the military rape epidemic, but for some reason it’s gotten little traction… I wonder why. In addition to the Salon exposé back in 2007:

    Time magazine, March 2010: Sexual Assaults on Female Soldiers – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (link)

    What does it tell us that female soldiers deployed overseas stop drinking water after 7 p.m. to reduce the odds of being raped if they have to use the bathroom at night? Or that a soldier who was assaulted when she went out for a cigarette was afraid to report it for fear she would be demoted — for having gone out without her weapon? Or that, as Representative Jane Harman puts it, “a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.”

    Newsweek, April 2011: The Military’s Secret Shame (link)

    What happened to Jeloudov is a part of life in the armed forces that hardly anyone talks about: male-on-male sexual assault. In the staunchly traditional military culture, it’s an ugly secret, kept hidden by layers of personal shame and official denial. Last year nearly 50,000 male veterans screened positive for “military sexual trauma” at the Department of Veterans Affairs, up from just over 30,000 in 2003. For the victims, the experience is a special kind of hell—a soldier can’t just quit his job to get away from his abusers. But now, as the Pentagon has begun to acknowledge the rampant problem of sexual violence for both genders, men are coming forward in unprecedented numbers, telling their stories and hoping that speaking up will help them, and others, put their lives back together. “We don’t like to think that our men can be victims,” says Kathleen Chard, chief of the posttraumatic-stress unit at the Cincinnati VA. “We don’t want to think that it could happen to us. If a man standing in front of me who is my size, my skill level, who has been raped—what does that mean about me? I can be raped, too.”

  16. 16
    julietdefarge

    “long-term aims of our military”
    These probably change every time we get new chiefs of staff, new administration, etc. Currently, the military is primarily a tool to be used to carry out our foreign policy objectives. Figuring out what part of our engagement in Afghanistan is defending the continental US and what part is denying advantages to other nations is probably impossible to separate out.

    I was in the Army from 1981-1993. I was aware of at least 6 cases where NCOs were punished for inappropriate sexual conduct. Three of these were seductions of trainees by Drill Sergeants and TACs, one was adultery, one was fraternization, and one was rape of a drunken trainee. As far as I know, 2 of these actually went to Leavenworth, everybody else was ‘busted’ down to Private. Maybe because I spent most of my time with CI agents and linguists, I can’t recall ever feeling threatened by my fellow soldiers.

  17. 17
    Sour Tomato Sand

    Frankly, just the phrase “long-term aims of our military” gives me the heebie-jeebies. Does anyone know what they are? And are they good in any way?

    The US military is such a huge organization that the phrase “long-term aims of our military” is practically meaningless. The US military includes the National Guard (which is primarily concerned with domestic disaster relief operations, and secondarily concerned with national defense goals, as determined by the President and congress), the Coast Guard which is primarily concerned with border protection and anti-narcotic operations, and civil organizations like the Army Corps of Engineers. Even the component commands have other things going on.

    And at the top you have the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense. The occupants of these posts change every couple years, all appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Parallel to that, on the enlisted side, you have the senior enlisted advisors– the Sergeant Major of the Army, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Master Chief Petty Officers of the Navy and Coast Guard… the holders of these posts also changes every few years.

    At best you can say that Secretary of Defense has long-term goals, but even those are determined by the President and Congress. Right now ours is scrambling to figure out what to do about the current budget crisis. I guess what I’m saying is, the goals of our military are controlled by our civilian government. So blame them for those goals, whether they are accomplished or not.

  18. 18
    Jafafa Hots

    I wouldn’t mind if the military had the long-term aim of becoming unnecessary.

  19. 19
    Emrysmyrddin

    I read this yesterday; it was on the ‘front page’ of the Guardian website. One of the first comments on the article mentioned that the US edition of the Guardian had it buried way down low near the bottom of the page.

    I’ve visited the US three times in my life, all for short holidaying purposes, and people I encountered didn’t seem to have exoskeletons, or stalk eyes, or beaks and claws – in short, I can’t quite parse the difference between the USAnians and my native British self that would explain the moving of this hideously truthful article from a prominent front-page position to scroll-down obscurity. Does the American media think that their readers don’t care about the rape of their service personnel? Or are they an informed demographic and, for some reason unfathomable to me, their readers really don’t care? Someone help me out here.

  20. 20
    scottportman

    Didn’t Churchill say that “the only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash”?

    Yup, authoritarian and highly regimented organizations like the church or the military do indeed create ideal circumstances for sexual assault, unless protections are put in place and rigorously enforced. This is especially true on ships or in military units in which people are forced in close proximity for extended periods of time.

    I worked on a Coast Guard icebreaker several decades ago when discipline and protections were weaker than now. Predatory types can be found on most ships with a large enough complement of sailors, and this icebreaker was no exception. One fat slob from Arkansas, a religious guy too, thought it was fun to pin me down and extinguish a lit cigarette on my ass. There was definitely a very creepy homoerotic vibe about what he was doing but there was no effective way to protest it, and I was only 17 at the time and this was a big cracker who could easily overpower me whenever he caught me alone.

    A quartermaster, who everyone knew was gay, heard about what happened, moved me to a different bunk area and generally protected me from this predator. This was the first but not the last time a gay man would help me out of a bind, and this is one reason why that video of Rick Perry whining abourt being a persecuted Christian and denigrating gay men in the military made me flat out angry. The ship’s only more or less openly gay man was the one person on that ship to step up and protect me from that closeted angry southern baptist, and he never hit on me or treated me with anything other than genuine decency. Perhaps he had been on the receiving end of similar bullying at a young age and this accounted for his awareness. Let people be who they are, put protections in place, and remember that genuine mutual respect is what binds together any organization, particularly a military unit. Sexual assault should be rigorously investigated and punished. Seems that neither the church nor sadly the military fully understand that.

  21. 21
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    My father treated cancer patients. So, when his kids were sick, he didn’t think much of it. “Not dying? I’ll pick up some anti-biotics in a week if it doesn’t go away.”

    I think it almost self-evident that rape culture plays a role in how this is handled. But I wonder… If you’re trained to blow the enemy into 50k pieces, and you are afraid of the enemy blowing you into 50k pieces, does that contribute to making rape seem “minor” to commanders? Especially if those commanders are men and, regardless of the actual stats on who is attacked, never emotionally connect with what it might mean to be a victim, thus never quite understand how serious it can be and then compare this artificially deflated impact with the “real threat” that the armed forces should “focus on” – enemy fire. That may help explain the fear about losing “a good man” from a unit, etc.

    I’m not saying this is what is going on, but I do find it curious and plausible. Anyone have any suggestions for studies on the nature of the forces that prevent handling rape?

  22. 22
    One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login

    It seems that our military shares some of the same attributes as the Catholic church — exclusivity, privilege, and a culture that rejects criticism …

    This should not be a surprise! There is a very strong and fundamental similarity between them, and among all uniformed services: the Catholic church hierarchy as well as its individual religious orders, the military, and the police.

    In each case, the members agree to give up a significant number of normal comforts and securities (Priests and other religious give up normal family life; the military give up the choice of where to live and their physical safety; Police give up normal working hours and some security; etc.) Society gets the special services the groups perform, and the groups receive in exchange a special social status demarcated by a highly visible uniform.

    In all of these groups there is a strong tendency to support the group first, and to keep in-house and quiet all troubles that might call into question that special social status. Only constant vigilance within and without can keep a group honest and focussed on its public mission.

    One uniformed group that does a significantly better job at maintaining its ethics is the medical profession. That’s partly the result of the profession’s history, and partly because doctors, unlike priests and military officers, can be sued in civil court.

  23. 23
    resistingthemilieu

    And yet the MRAs still insist that rape culture doesn’t exist, and it’s actually a “false rape accusation culture” implemented by those evil Teh Feminists and their matriarchy! They’ve been busy over at my blog trying to convince us that up is down and left is right!

    If MRAs wanted to make a better life for men, they would address male-on-male sexual violence as well. From the article: “But military rape is not only a women’s issue. According to the Veterans Affairs Office, 37% of the sexual trauma cases reported last year were men. ‘Men are even more isolated than women following rape,’ Bhagwati says. ‘Because it has an even bigger social stigma.’”

    The so-called men’s rights movement does not exist to address the realities of individual rape claims, or to make life better for the doodz. It exists, instead, to disseminate anti-female propaganda in an effort to make rape culture and patriarchy more difficult to combat.

  24. 24
    Sour Tomato Sand

    But I wonder… If you’re trained to blow the enemy into 50k pieces, and you are afraid of the enemy blowing you into 50k pieces, does that contribute to making rape seem “minor” to commanders?

    The problem with this is that the majority of troops in the military are not in combat arms; that is, while they are trained to kill the enemy, they don’t spend the majority of their time beyond basic training furthering that training, or even engaging the enemy. Myself, I spent most of my time in military intelligence units. Obviously we didn’t spend really any time training to “blow the enemy into 50k pieces” and our biggest concern was failing to collect important information, not being blow up.

    And that does not only apply to MI units. People in administrative billets are mostly concerned with paperwork, people in supply billets are worried about budgets and getting the necessary equipment, people in the medical field are worried about treating people, people in maintenance are worried about fixing vehicles… you get the point. This is especially true in the Air Force where there are very few combat positions. Yet the Air Force still has a problem with rape.

    Also, officers are concerned with unit morale, and rape and sexual assault have wide-reaching negative effects on morale. I’m not saying that commanders aren’t partly responsible (for example, I think the practice of commanders imposing non-judicial punishment on suspected rapists is a huge issue) but I don’t think it’s as simple as what you’ve said here.

  25. 25
    robro

    There has been at least one prominent, public expose in the US media on sexual abuse in the military. Sadly it was on the (not so) “funny” page. Doonesbury did a length story about a woman solider in therapy for sexual abuse experienced while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, including a reprise of the theme when the character returned to active duty. It’s unfortunate that serious issues are left to such a venue.

  26. 26
    Pteryxx

    But I wonder… If you’re trained to blow the enemy into 50k pieces, and you are afraid of the enemy blowing you into 50k pieces, does that contribute to making rape seem “minor” to commanders?

    Well, the Catholic church doesn’t have military training, nor does American football (much as they’d like us to believe otherwise), nor do students on college campuses, or the MPAA. Yet victim-blaming and rapist apologia are still very evident. Personally I’m not convinced that there’s anything particularly rapey about (US) military training itself, beyond just the general insular, authoritarian, unaccountable, and macho-toxic culture.

  27. 27
    NitricAcid

    Robro#25: For many years, my local paper had Doonesbury running on the editorial page, rather than with the other comics.

  28. 28
    Jaws

    Speaking as a military officer who, in part, resigned his commission over this issue (and served the better part of a decade as a commanding officer, before DADT marked a relaxing of homophobia):

    Bluntly, a substantial part of the problem comes — or at least, in the 1980s and 1990s, came — from the overt and covert enforcement of religious orthodoxy (pardon me, evangelical protestantism) in the officer corps. On two occasions, I was denied the ability to press an investigation of “incidents” in which I commanded the victim and the alleged assailant* was under the command of another unit; on one occasion, my findings and recommendation in the converse situation were rejected by higher authority for off-the-record reasons that continue to make no sense to me two decades later. (At least the sonofabitch never earned another promotion and was “encouraged” to leave the service shortly thereafter.) In each of these three incidents, the favorable result for the alleged assailant was at least in part due to shared religious animus against a nonmember of a favored subset.

    What should really give you pause is that these were not the only three sexual assaults that came to my attention during the time that I held command authority. I did what I could each time, but there’s just no way that it was sufficient… particularly for the victim. Unfortunately, there was also more than one instance that came in front of me that involved allegations that were later, in the wonderful euphemism normal in reports up the chain of command, “found noncredible and nonconfirmed.” This was all too common during the decade or so after Vietnam, particularly in training-oriented and other bottom-heavy units (e.g., one had 200 or so enlisted trainees, 170 or so officer trainees — almost all newly-minted lieutenants — and a permanent cadre of eight; another had nearly 1,200 enlisted personnel and eleven officers).

    The less said about sexual harassment that doesn’t (quite) rise to the level of an assault, the better.

    * I say “alleged” because there were conflicting stories and no final defensible finding, not because I do not believe that punishable sexual misconduct took place. That’s called “the rule of law,” and sometimes it gets in the way of ideological — and moral and even religious — predispositions.

  29. 29
    Pteryxx

    What should really give you pause is that these were not the only three sexual assaults that came to my attention during the time that I held command authority. I did what I could each time, but there’s just no way that it was sufficient…

    @Jaws, as a stranger on the Internet can I just say thank you for even trying. Being the one person who cares is never trivial.

    More sense of how long this has gone on, from the Newsweek article:

    Kathleen Chard, the Cincinnati VA psychologist who runs PTSD programs, says that more than 11 percent of the men she works with eventually admit that they were sexually victimized. Nationwide, there are just six programs like hers, and there is a single VA facility, in Bay Pines, Fla., that specifically treats male survivors of sexual trauma. When Matthews finally sought treatment for the PTSD caused by his rape, he says he had to wait six months for a space to open up. “I went to the group and there’s all these guys from the Korean War through Desert Storm,” he recalls. “And you say, ‘Oh, my God.’ ”

    @ resistingthemilieu:

    If MRAs wanted to make a better life for men, they would address male-on-male sexual violence as well. From the article: “But military rape is not only a women’s issue. According to the Veterans Affairs Office, 37% of the sexual trauma cases reported last year were men. ‘Men are even more isolated than women following rape,’ Bhagwati says. ‘Because it has an even bigger social stigma.’”

    MRA’s refuse to admit that rape victims of any gender are getting taken more seriously mostly because of feminists and women’s advocacy.

    From the Newsweek article I linked above:

    In fact, it is the high victimization rate of female soldiers—women in the armed forces are now more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in combat—that has helped cast light on men assaulting other men. For most of military history, there was neither a system nor language in place to deal with incidents of soldier-on-soldier sexual assault. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Defense Department even acknowledged such incidents as an offense, and initially only female victims were recognized. But last year more than 110 men made confidential reports of sexual assault by other men, nearly three times as many as in 2007.

    And the FBI’s recent redefining of rape to include male victims was spearheaded by feminist organizations:

    The scheduled vote is already being hailed as a victory by many women’s health and advocacy groups, including the Women’s Law Project, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Ms. Magazine, who have been calling upon the FBI to modernize the 80+-year-old definition of forcible rape. A Change.org petition started by these groups has garnered over 130,000 signatures already. From the petition, started this summer:

    The FBI’s flawed definition of rape excludes any form of sexual assault that falls outside of the narrowest understanding of heterosexual sex, including the rape of men and boys as well as transgender people.

    (emphasis mine) Link to source

  30. 30
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    I’ve read that the odds of being raped by a fellow member if you are a woman in the U.S. armed forces are one in three. Any woman who plans to join the military to get out of DeadEndsVille and get vocational training should learn to fight and fight dirty.

  31. 31
    vltava

    Jackie Speiers (D – CA 12) has been hammering at this issue relentlessly, while being mostly ignored by the media and her fellow representatives.

  32. 32
    Pteryxx

    re Jackie Speier:

    Democrat Jackie Speier has been making weekly speeches on the House floor, telling the stories of rape victims in the military. Now she’s introduced a bill that would take rape cases out of the usual military chain of command and transfer investigations, prosecutions, and victim care to an autonomous sexual assault office. (…)

    The Department of Defense says there were 19,000 sexual assaults last year in the military. Fewer than 3 percent of the perpetrators were punished. Speier says allowing assaults to go unpunished compromises the effectiveness of the military. “Members of military units survive on the code of watching out for each other. When sexual assaults and rapes are hushed, ignored, or treated lightly, trust in a unit is compromised along with its collective readiness to engage the enemy,” Speier said.

    Source

    a Thomas search says it has 84 co-sponsors.

    One of Speier’s many speeches telling the story of military rape victims:

    youtube link

    The lack of outrage is… disturbing.

  33. 33
    Aquaria

    There’s the start of a solution. The Pentagon claims that the problem of sexual assault in the military is now a “command priority” — but will they take the necessary actions to correct it, or will they turtle up and make it even more of an in-house process? I’d bet on the latter, given their history.

    I’d bet on the latter, too. That’s how it was when I was in.

    We always knew when someone had filed a sexual harassment charge in the military. We’d get the stand up talk about how sexual harassment and discrimination wasn’t tolerated yadda yadda yadda.

    I also wonder, given the brutality and neglect with which some American soldiers are allowed to treat their comrades-in-arms, is it a surprise that they treat the people in the countries we occupy with brutality?

    It’s not a coincidence that Okinawa is resisting any attempts to build a new base there. Here’s just the short list of what our illustrious military has been up to in Japan (all in Okinawa unless otherwise indicated):

    * 1995: Three American military service members (2 Marines, 1 Navy) gang-raped a 12 year old girl.

    * 2000: A service member broke into a family’s home to molest their young daughter–right before Clinton was to visit Japan.

    * 2001: American service members gang-raped a woman in her 20s.

    * 2002: An American service member attempted to rape a woman–and the wannabe rapist paid her off to recant her testimony. He would eventually be convicted when the Japanese got the woman to admit she was paid off, and that the attempted rape had indeed occurred.

    * 2006: Two women raped by one American service member.

    * 2008 was apparently a banner year for scumbags: Let’s see… An American service member raped a 14-year-old one week–and apparently another one raped a Filipino woman the next week. I think it was also in 2008 that a Marine tried to assault Okinawa police officers when they responded to a domestic violence call. Not to be outdone by these Nobel Peace Prize winners, a sailor murdered a taxi driver in Tokyo.

    The US military has had 65+ years to get its act together. They’ve failed. It’s going to take Japan incarcerating Americans for maximum sentences to get the DoD to get the fucking hint and drill it into everyone’s heads that being brown doesn’t make the locals rape bait.

  34. 34
    Aquaria

    And I think that making American service members who commit violent crimes (for a start, for now) subject to local laws would go a long way to making the military clean up its act. The Brits are absolutely right that certain crimes need to be tried outside the military, once and for all.

    JAG will find something to do, I’m sure.

  35. 35
    julian

    Yeah, everyone knows this is happening. No body wants to open themselves up to attack by trying to honestly deal with it.

    Politician’s don’t see anything to gain from it. Officers don’t want to risk their NCO’s rebelling. NCO don’t want to make the military ‘weaker’ by bringing in this liberal crap (‘We got this, Sir.’) And the lessers have had it drilled into their head that if the worse thing they can ever do is go outside the platoon for help so nothing ever sees the light of day.

    I wish someone who actually understood integrity would take a bulldozer to the military. Grab every fucker with more than one rocker make them do their fucking job and actually watch out for the men and women in their charge.

    Seconding the call to rework the whole NJP bullshit. They say you’ll still get handed over to authorities but they just keep it on house.

  36. 36
    Louis

    Aquaria,

    …get the fucking hint and drill it into everyone’s heads that being brown doesn’t make the locals rape bait.

    Why do you hate men/white people/America/heterosexuals/freedom (delete as applicable), you commie/lesbian/pinko/moonbat/elitist (delete as applicable)?

    How did I do?

    Louis

  37. 37
    julian

    Not sure how much this may be contributing to the issue (or if it’s true across all the branches) but the incredible disdain and disgust for military police is staggering. Really, even in the projects of New York there was a grudging admittance that police could and sometimes do very good work even if they’re often corrupt. Here in the USMC it’s like they don’t even deserve to wear the uniform. Even a Comm POG like me gets more respect than an MP.

  38. 38
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Only 21 years old, and weeks into her military training, Maricella Guzman says she ran to tell her supervisor in the hours after her rape at a military boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. “I burst into his office and said, ‘I need to speak to you,’ ” explains Guzman, now 34, and a student at a college in Los Angeles studying psychology, who talks about many lost years when she couldn’t function as a result. “One of the procedures if you want to speak to someone in the navy is you have to knock three times on the door and request permission to speak. But I didn’t do that. I was too upset. So my supervisor said ‘Drop’, which means push-ups. So I did the push-ups. But I was still in tears. I said, ‘I need to talk to you.’ He said ‘Drop’ again. Every time I tried to say anything, he made me do push-ups. By the time I was composed in the way he wanted me to be, I couldn’t say anything any more. I just couldn’t.”

    Anyone still think there are cases where the death penalty isn’t appropriate?

  39. 39
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Err, no cases where it is, I mean. Jesus fuck, if that doesn’t demonstrate “such cold-blooded indifference to human life and suffering that no prison term could ever possibly reform them” I’m not sure what would.

  40. 40
    julian

    @Azkyroth

    He (no knowledge of how the Navy does it) was likely just doing what everyone around him told him is the right way to deal with a new recruit.

    Recruit (seaman recruit, in this case) doesn’t have the mental toughness to stay composed when coming into your office? Make them go back and do it right. After all they have to learn the world doesn’t revolve around their petty needs and to respect rank, don’t they? How will they learn if you let every babbling idiot into your office? Probably just not tough enough to be here anyway.

    The attitude nicely coincides with the SNCO unwillingness to deal with the issues of their subordinates. If a PFC has an issue he should bring it up with their Cpl and not bother the higher ups with it. Hazing to instill the importance of dealing with issues before they reach someone with weight on their collar is pretty popular.

  41. 41
    bifrons

    MI must lead a charmed life because I don’t see any of this. We do hear about it more often coming from infantry units. While in Korea most of the issues came from 2nd ID in the Casey and Yongsan areas. You might find this interesting http://vimeo.com/17178637
    I think another problem is that the Army sends new soldiers to areas they shouldn’t be. They are mostly just out of high school and now they are at their first duty station in a foreign country. That isn’t an excuse for the behavior, but a possible contributing factor. http://www.2id.korea.army.mil/programs/sexual_assault/
    That is a good link to help you understand the Army Sexual Assault reporting system.
    Hope this information is helpful.

  42. 42
    karimghantous

    One uniformed group that does a significantly better job at maintaining its ethics is the medical profession

    You have a very idealized view of the medical profession, David!

  43. 43
    calgor

    Ever since the Deepcut incident, all incidents of abuse are taken very seriously by the British Armed Forces. It has been a very long and painful experience for the Services to clean up their act but their standard is lightyears ahead of where it was and as a witness from the inside, the wind is now certainly against the bullies.

    One consequence of the clean up was the introduction of additional chains of reporting of such incidents outside the principle command chain and with the authority to get stuck in as needed. These alternate reporting chains are regularly advertised and every new recruit is made aware of them from the start (Definitely for the Royal Navy, cannot confirm Army or RAF).

    As for serious crimes, such as rape, If these are committed within the UK, the better trained civilian authorities are brought in ASAP. While duty personnel are trained to deal with immediate issues, their principle job is to not screw up potential evidence – far better to get the experts in.

    For serious incidents that occur abroad, my experience is that specialist personnel are sent (they are Service personnel but seperate command chain), principally to ensure that command interfernce cannot occur.

    This does not mean that such incidences no longer occur (they do but with considerable less frequency than ten years ago – note, this is personal experience as a duty officer), but the general culture is that such activity is intolerable and not acceptable and when discovered is persecuted with all the strength of the law.

  44. 44
    richardgadsden

    Calgor, that’s one of the most reassuring things I’ve read in a very long time.

    I’m so pleased that Deepcut has resulted in some kind of positive result after so many people suffered so badly for so long there.

  45. 45
    slignot

    No matter how often I read stories about how prevalent rape in the military is and how abysmally it’s handled, I am always angered and horrified.

    I first started to understand how systemic the problem is when a teacher of mine in high school told us about her experience with rape at West Point and how it chased her out of a military career.

    She was not the victim, and she continues to describe her behavior as the greatest shame of her life. One night two fellow cadets (male) broke into a shared dorm and raped her roommate; knowing what could (and probably would) happen to her if she interfered or reported the incident, she did nothing. She pretended to be asleep and transferred out of West Point to William and Mary College at the first opportunity. Nothing brought home the horror of a system where victims and those supporting them suffer more negative consequences than attackers more powerfully than listening to someone I knew and respected recount the shame she felt at choosing to do nothing.

    Now every time I hear a victim talk about a superior shaming them, asking them “why they want to ruin the career” of an officer by pursuing justice, I get angry. I wonder if anything about the current military policing structure can be salvaged.

  46. 46
    resistingthemilieu

    @Pteryxx Thanks for pointing that out to me, the MRAs are really pissed about the expansion of the rape definition by the feds. I think this proves that they are just using a vacuous talking point and don’t even care how it’s redefined, they’re just pissed that feminists have been effective.

  47. 47
    sonofrojblake

    One thing bothered me about this story:

    The “more chance of being raped by a colleague than being killed by the enemy” stat seems like a textbook example of a manipulative, sensationalist and fundamentally meaningless statistic. I have no idea how likely a female soldier is to be killed by the enemy, but given how relatively rare females are right on the front line, and how often people, male and female, are “merely” injured rather than killed, this stat sounds like someone desperately trying to inflate how bad it sounds. I was immediately reminded of the old one about a single woman over a certain age being more likely to die in a terrorist attack than get married – and I imagine that’s not the association the people circulating this stat are going for.

    A really meaningful stat would be – how likely is a female soldier in Afghanistan to be raped by a colleague or acquaintance, compared to someone working in, say, an insurance office in the US? That is – is the prevalence of rape in the US military very much higher than its prevalence in US society generally? NONE of the reports I’ve seen give me any usable information on that.

    If it is much higher – and one assumes it is – then why not frame the story that way?

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