Sexual assaults happen every day, in fact about every two
minutes in America someone is sexually assaulted (The Rape, Abuse
and Incest National Network, RAINN).
This fact is well known, yet continues to stain our country.
Over the past decades our government and nonprofit organizations
have attempted to rid the country of this horrendous fact, yet it
remains strong, even in the most protected of places- our country’s
The military, an agency set up to protect our rights and those
of individuals across the world, continues to hide, ignore and
continue the abuse of women within its own ranks.
The Senate Armed Services Committee heard the results of an
investigation of sexual assaults within the military last
Wednesday. During this hearing the committee heard of the lack of a
policy for sexual assault victims, complete investigations, medical
treatment, victim advocates and counselors and separation from
alleged attackers, according to the Denver Post on Thursday.
What makes these assaults so disturbing is that they are not few
and far between. In fact according to the New York Times article on
Feb. 26, 112 reports of sexual misconduct were reported over the
past two years. These are only the assaults occurring outside of
the United States including Iraq and Afghanistan. Adding to this
number are the two dozen women at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas
who reported being assaulted in 2002 and the Colorado Air Force
Academy’s more than 50 reported assaults and rapes over the last
When service women are assaulted or raped out of the country
they often are unable to find medial, emotional or justice
services, according to the Times article. This is unbelievable –
our government cannot encourage civilian women to report rapes and
seek justice on attackers, when the women within their own agencies
lack these resources and support.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Marine Republican on the Armed Services
Personnel Sub-Committee is quoted in the New York Times article
about her concern over this situation.
“No war comes without cost, but the cost should be born out of
conflict with the enemy, and not because of egregious by some of
our own troops,” she said.
Many service women do not have anyone to turn to when assaulted,
even within the United States. If they turn to their military
leaders they are often put right back into working with their
accused assaulter and may also face negative repercussions from
reporting the problem. An officer referred to in the New York Times
suggests that women are returned to the same position because
compradery is very important to troop moral.
Ahh, I see, sexual assaults occurring aren’t going to hurt the
morale, just the reporting of such attacks will.
Women may also become victims again by the military
investigator, as Deborah D. Tucker, executive director of the
National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence suggests in the
Denver Post article.
“Questions are being asked of them that are not being asked by
civilians anymore, such as were you drinking, what were you
wearing,” she said. “Those kind of old-school strategies.”
This is so shocking. Our military and government should set an
example for the country. It should practice far ahead in social
issues and should not be operating back in the “dark ages” where
women were blamed for attacks.
Because of these shortfalls in the military’s response in sexual
assaults it is worrisome how many women may have not reported
assaults. With the chance of no change in assignment, no
investigation into the situation and no physical or emotional
medical attention, I must wonder why a woman would choose to report
an assault. Many must suffer in silence.
The military has begun a review of sexual assault policies,
which will end on April 30. During this time many military
officials will also receive more training of practices in dealing
with sexual assaults.
Isn’t it about time? Leaders in all types of civilian businesses
must go through sexual harassment training, even here at The
Collegian, yet our military has let this issue slide by. As the
number of women joining the military increases, up at least five
percent from 1999, according to the U.S. Department of Defense,
women’s issues within the military should become more
Women should feel safer within the government agency of the
military than anywhere else, but it seems they don’t have that
protection. Hopefully with the issue entering the media’s center
stage the military and government will change these policies. They
must make a mandated system in dealing with sexual assaults
including victim advocates, medical attention and a thorough
investigation into the accusation.
Until this happens, women within the military will continue to
fight for our rights, yet lack their own.
J.J. Babb is the design managing editor of the Collegian. She is
a senior studying journalism.