A ribbon commemorating National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April).
The growing problem of sexual harassment in the United States Military is an embarrassment to say the least. While recent laws have been passed to place women closer to the front line, is enough being done to make sure their male counterparts don’t cross the line?
The chain of command calls the shots in the military. They tell personnel where they may live, go on vacation, when/if they will be promoted and what they will do once they’re deployed.
In some cases they control when an unwilling party is sexually harassed and even assaulted. According to a 2011 report, a woman is more likely to be harassed or assaulted by a fellow officer than killed in combat.
A recently graduated cadet remembers waiting for her accused rapist at the Air Force Academy to be brought to justice. A former sailor, now living in Denver, talks of being sexually harassed by shipmates and eventually forced to leave the Navy after she reported a subordinate’s rape. A male sergeant, based at Fort Carson, speaks of seeing participants in a gang rape get away with it.
Commanders have been known to look away from these incidents — while victims are assaulted repeatedly — until leaving the military altogether is their only option. In some cases, high-ranking officials are caught up in scandals as well.
Take a guess at what happens when an officer stands before fellow commanders who have been given the power to actually overrule juries in cases stemming from DUIs to sexual assault?
The Senate is drafting its annual defense bill this month, including a provision that would strengthen how the Pentagon handles sexual assaults and harassment. Military leaders oppose a plan that would remove discretion from commanders to overrule juries in some of these cases, but a tougher proposal offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is gaining bipartisan support.
From 2010 to 2012 a Pentagon report shows a 35 percent increase in sexual assaults in the military. Ten years ago, 12 percent of the Air Force Academy’s female graduating class said they had been sexually assaulted and 70 percent said they had been sexually harassed. Last year, the Pentagon estimated that about 500 men and women were assaulted each week.
Last year, the Pentagon said 3,374 servicemembers reported sexual assaults, up from 3,192 in 2011. This reflects a steady increase over the past decade. Of the cases reported in 2012, 96 went to court-martial. The Pentagon estimated that about 500 men and women were assaulted each week last year. The Defense Department estimates that 14 percent of military victims report their assaults. The Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention Office found that 64 percent of convicted sexual assault perpetrators were discharged from the military.
In the past two months alone:
? An Army general at Fort Jackson, S.C., was suspended on charges of adultery after an alleged physical altercation with his mistress.
? A member of Fort Hood’s Sexual Assault Response Team was accused of running a prostitution ring.
? The head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response was arrested for allegedly approaching a woman in a parking lot and grabbing her breasts.
? A West Point rugby team was benched for sexist e-mails.
The United States Armed Forces has a serious problem which isn’t going to improve unless someone other than those in rank are put in place to curtail this Neanderthal mentality.
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