Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rape in the US military: America's Dirty Little Secret

Guardian (UK)
Lucy Broadbent
December 9, 2011.

A female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be attacked by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire

"It was eight years before I was able to say the word that describes what happened to me," says Maricella Guzman. "I hadn't even been in the Navy a month. I was so young. I tried to report it. But instead of being taken seriously, I was forced to do push-ups."

"I can't sleep without drugs," says Kate Weber. "But even then, I often wake up in the middle of the night, crying, my mind racing. And I lie there awake in the dark, reliving the rape, looking for a second chance for it to end with a different outcome, but he always wins."

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.

Since the lawsuit became public in February, 400 more have come forward, contacting attorney Susan Burke who is leading the case. These are likely to be future lawsuits. Right now they are anxiously awaiting a court ruling to find out if the lawsuit will go to trial. The defence team for the department of defence has filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing a court ruling, dating back to 1950, which states that the government is not liable for injury sustained by active duty personnel. To date, military personnel have been unable to sue their employer.

Whether or not the case goes to trial, it is still set to blow the lid on what has come to be regarded as the American military's dirty little secret. 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.

Read the rest here.


Comment: An absolutely despicable situation.  And, this report only deals with rape inside the US military.

What needs to be factored in are the rapes/sexual assaults of civilians where the US military is stationed or at war.

Does the US keep a tally of the number of rapes/sexual assaults inflicted by its military personnel on civilians (women and men) in their so called field of operations?

I can recall high profile cases in Japan in 1995 (Okinawa rape incident) and one in 2008.  But what about Iraqi, Afghan, and other victims?

Another day, another disgusting story about the US military.


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