A week ago, 15 women and 2 men (all of them veterans or active duty servicemembers) brought a federal lawsuit against the Pentagon based on rampant sexual assault within the military. The plaintiffs claim that Gates and his predecessor Rumsfeld “ran institutions in which perpetrators were promoted and where military personnel openly mocked and flouted the modest Congressionally mandated institutional reforms.” Pictured above is Myla Haider, who testified about her 2002 rape during her time in the Coast Guard, which she says she did not report because she did not believe it would get her justice. In an interview she said she came forward now and participated in the case in order to “address the systematic punishment of soldiers who come forward with any type of complaint.”
The Servicewomen’s Action Network, which is an advocacy group for women in the military has a factsheet on military sexual trauma (MST):
- For female servicemembers, MST is the leading cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (For men, combat is the primary cause.)
- Using 2003 data, 1 in 6 civilian women experience sexual assault compared to 1 in 3 military women.
- 40% of civilian perpetrators are prosecuted. In the military, only 8% are prosecuted.
- Of female veterans since Vietnam, 79% report sexual harassment.
- 37% of female veterans report having been raped more than once. 14% report having been gang raped.
- In a survey of servicewomen who had experienced MST, 75% had not reported it. Of that 75%, 20% said that rape was to be expected in the military and one-third said they did not know how to report it.
Read more at the Servicewomen’s Action Network (which is a fabulous organisation).
(Photo Credit: Cliff Owen/AP)
And they are being raped by men who expect them to protect them when the going gets tough — my mind boggles.
Rape is really not addressed seriously enough in this society. It is not seen as the cruel and psychologically damaging act that it really is—especially given the statutes of limitation for prosecuting rapists…There shouldn’t be one! And then it’s so difficult to prove if you weren’t beaten half to death which makes women seem like they’re crazy when they report it. With all the recent attacks on how to define rape, eliminating abortion providers, and so on, I’m truly unsettled. Enough is enough already, when are we going to be able to 1) feel safe in our own bodies, and 2) know that if someone violates them that justice will ACTUALLY be served?