If political media spotlighted military sexual assault with the fervor it puts into slut-shaming Paula Broadwell, we might get somewhere.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 13, 2012
Yesterday, the Air Force released a report about the culture of sexual assault that had developed on Lackland Air Force Base.
The scandal at basic training in San Antonio has already cost two commanding officers their jobs, led to charges against 11 military training instructors that resulted in five convictions. One MTI was convicted of rape; others were convicted on charges involving inappropriate relationships with recruits. So far, 25 MTIs are, or have been, under investigation, and the number of possible victims has climbed to 49. [Military Times]
This is not just a Lackland problem, nor is it just an Air Force problem. Rape is endemic in our military, and it is nearly impossible for survivors to get justice.
“The recommendations made today are good steps that we think will improve sexual assault awareness and response at Lackland AFB, but they do not correct the flaws within the military judicial system,” said Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women’s Action Network and a former Marine Corps captain, in a statement. “The military far too often retaliates against victims and fails to hold perpetrators accountable.” [HuffPo]
It’s such a problem that there is an entire documentary about it, which you should watch if you want to feel horrifically sad about the world. Here some some statistics:
Approximately 19,000 sexual assaults take place in the U.S. military each year. Among female veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, an estimated 20 percent have experienced sexual assault or related trauma. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has acknowledged the number of sexual assaults in the military is likely far higher than official statistics show.
Justice is rare for women raped by fellow service members. Approximately one out of every 100 sexual assaults in the military results in a conviction, due to a multitude of obstacles faced by rape survivors. [HuffPo]
But definitely let’s keep talking about this whole Petraeus things. Shirtless guys in email are so much more fun to think about!