Feb 292004
 
Authors: J.J. Babb

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

military.

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

decade.

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

prominent.

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.

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