26,000 incidents of rape in the military…in just one year

courtesy of: weareultraviolet.org

courtesy of: weareultraviolet.org

The media bombards us with a lot of news on a daily basis.  Sadly most of the “news” is irrelevant or highly exaggerated for ratings purposes.  The 24 hour news cycle is relentless and not concerned with truly informing the public on important issues.  It is really difficult to find journalism that tries to inform the public with important information.  The press sadly fails in their duty to keep the public informed.  The founding fathers felt the press to be so important to a democratic society that they included it in the very first amendment of the Constitution.

But thats enough of a tirade against the poor performance of modern day media.  The real subject of this essay is a story that the mainstream media seems to be ignoring due to the circus that is the fake controversies of Benghazi and the IRS.  The story of which I’m speaking of is the recent report outlining numerous incidents of  sexual assault in the military.  A pentagon report estimates that over 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted just last year.  Of those 26,000 assaults only 3,374 victims reported incidents.  Of those incidents which were reported only 238 of the cases ended in convictions.  (14,000 of the 26,000 incidents of sexual assault in 2012 involved male victims.  This is significant but is it is important to remember that women make up such a minority of service members that they have a much higher chance of being a victim.) The 2012 figures are up 33% from the previous year.  These number are appalling for a number of reasons.  According to these numbers, less than one percent of sexual assault incidents ended in a conviction.  That means that perhaps tens of thousands of rapists got away with it.

Military rape is not a new phenomena.  It has been going on since women joined the military and, most likely, before that.  Why?  Why is there a much higher rate of sexual assault in the military than any other profession or situation.  Some people believe that the reason for high amount of rape is the structure of power.  Nearly all female service members who were sexually assaulted were a lower rank than their rapists.  These higher ranking officers used their power over the woman, both physically and structurally, to exploit and destroy the lives of these service women.  The report rate is so low because women service members don’t want to alienate themselves or risk their positions for speaking out.  As Paula Coughlin, a former Navy lieutenant said, “Commanders have the power to destroy your career, to make your life a living hell,”.

Others believe that the reason for the amount of sexual assault is the macho culture that is still very prevalent in the military.  The military culture tries to instill manliness in its privates.  Manliness is accompanied by a number of social roles and expectations.  Common roles and expectations include rationality, unemotional, physically strong, and dominant.  Put more bluntly, service members can’t be “pussies”, “queers”, or “fags”.  Military culture forces males service members to fill these role and exert their physical dominance.  Moral courage is not praised as much as order and battlefield courage are.  The military often times makes monsters who are exposed to degradation, hunger, poverty, hate, anger, death, loss, and rape.

Another fact that may have added to the culture of sexual assault in the military is the second class status of female service members.  In order for women to be treated more equally they need to me better represented.  At current levels, women only make up 15% of active service members.  That number would need to increase significantly in order to them to be more respected.  The fact that they are always the minority in every military unit makes them easy scapegoats whens something goes wrong.  Another aspect of the military that needs to change is the fact that women are excluded from certain units and mission.

Why is this a big deal?  Why is the fact that there is an obvious sexual assault problem in the military an issue?  The obvious reason is that rape is a terrible act that takes away a persons dignity and innocence.  Another reason why it is a big deal is the fact that the military, which is part of the US Department of Defense, is the largest employer in the world.  The largest company in the world, in the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world, has 26,000 incidents of rape a year.  That is astounding.  This is why I am upset at the media for not covering this story to a better extent.  The military needs to take a long hard look at its culture.  America’s largest military university, West Point, states their three core values to be “Duty, Honor, Country”.  The military has a duty to treat the lives of every service members with respect.  They need to honor the value of ever service man and women, no matter their rank, gender, or sexuality.  Our military needs to protect every member as it continues to protect this country.

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2 thoughts on “26,000 incidents of rape in the military…in just one year

  1. To further your research, I would recommend the documentary, the Invisible War. It’s difficult viewing, but necessary. It also covers the court ruling that describes rape as an “occupational hazard” that is “incidental to service.”

    BTW, thanks for the shout-out in your links.

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