Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted April 25, 2009

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Syndicated columnist reveals military rape

Abuse In Another Institution

by Donald O. Cassidy

Lion's Share of Federal Budget
Does Not Make the Military Moral

Bob Herbert, a writer for the New York Times, provides incriminating evidence that military service exercises only token discipline against sexism and sexual crimes involving its women. The first case he cites is of a former woman Army officer who had fought valiantly against her assailant. To her complaint and attempt to file charges, Herbert reports that the battalion officer told her to drop charges because she had been unharmed. When she persisted, the Army retaliated. They reversed the charges, accusing her of the assault.

The second case Herbert cites is of Tia Christopher, a 27-year-old victim, also no longer in service.
She counsels other women victims of sexual abuse. She told Herbert of the sailor who entered her barracks and could not be fought off.
"'He was very rough,' she said. 'The girls next door heard my head hitting the wall. And he made a mess. When he left, he told me he'd pray for me and that he still thought I was pretty.'" (1) She left the Navy. "'My military career ended. My assailant's didn't.'" (2)

This abuse is mostly kept hidden but it is not diminishing. The Pentagon's data showed an almost 90 percent increase in the sexual assaults in the last fiscal year.
",,,And a 25 percent increase in such assaults reported by women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. " (3)

As if it's not bad enough to serve in military life, these women have concerns about attack when associating in uniform.

"The truly chilling fact is that, as the Pentagon readily admits, the overwhelming majority of rapes that occur in the military go unreported, perhaps as many as 80 percent. And most of the men accused of attacking women receive little or no punishment." (4)

Louise Slaughter, a Congress woman from upstate New York, gives attention to the testimonies of military women who have been given the brush off. "'I know women victims, women in the military, who said to me, that the first response they would get if they tried to report a rape was, "Oh, you don't want to ruin that young man's career, do you?"' (5)

Rep. Slaughter has been trying for many years to get stringent action. The best she can obtain is a convoluted statistic from the Department of Defense. Higher numbers of rapes reported just feeds their absurd claim of more efficiency in reporting. As a consequence, there are few court martials for assault. Lack of motivation to clean up the sexism stands out.

"The military is one of the most highly controlled environments imaginable. When there are rules that the Pentagon absolutely wants followed, they are rigidly enforced by the chain of command. Violation is not tolerated. The military could bring about a radical reduction in the number of rapes and other forms of sexual assault if it wanted to, and it could radically improve the overall treatment of women in the armed forces." (6)

Herbert goes on to say there is no real desire to change this aspect of military life.
"It is an ultra-macho environment in which the tendency has been to see all women--civilian and military, young and old, American and foreign-- solely as sexual objects
"Real change, drastic change, will have to be imposed from outside the military. It will not come from within." (7)

End-of-chapter notes: (1). Bob Herbert, "Military: Stop rape of women in uniform," New York Times in The Lexington(KY) Herald-Leader, March 27, 2009, A 15
2. Ibid, 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid, 5 Ibid, 6 Ibid, 7 Ibid
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