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Old 03-19-2007, 04:38 PM   #1
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Sharp Rise in Sexual Assaults of US Female Soldiers by Male Soldiers

Quote:
Report: Sexual assault of women soldiers on rise in US military

By Tom Regan
Christian Science Monitor, March 19, 2007


In the online magazine Salon, Helen Benedict reports that every female veteran she interviewed for a book she is writing on women in the US military said that "the danger of rape by other soldiers is so widely recognized in Iraq that their officers routinely told them not to go to the latrines or showers without another woman for protection." Ms. Benedict also reports that some women soldiers started carrying knives to protect themselves, not from Iraqis, but from their male peers in the military. [Check out the embedded link on the first page of that article about criminal record waivers, also the starred reader comments (bottom of page); those are very interesting as well. --y.]

Although no comprehensive statistics have been compiled on the number of women soldiers raped in Iraq, rumors of the problem were so prevalent that in 2004 then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created a task force to look into the issue. Although the findings were never released publicly, the military created a website to deal with potential sexual assault in the military and also initiated classes on preventing sexual assault and harassment. The number of reported military assaults rose from 1700 in 2004 to more than 2300 in 2005.

But Benedict says, as with most sexual assaults, the actual number is vastly underreported.
This situation in Iraq is compounded because often those committing sexual assaults are senior officers or members of a woman's unit. There is also the problem of widespread availability of hard-core pornography on US military bases in Iraq, which helps create an atmosphere of sexual tension. Women who have reported sexual assaults, Benedict alleges, have often been ignored or treated as pariahs by fellow soldiers. Also, as she points out in the salon article, there's a long history of such allegations.
.................................................................
In an interview with radio program Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, Iraq veteran Mickiela Montoya talked about why she carried a knife in Iraq to protect her safety.

SPC. MICKIELA MONTOYA: No, safe from the other soldiers. I never intended on using the knife for an Iraqi. I had my M-16 for that. But my knife, I always just kept it for another soldier, because any time I would have any type of strong sexual harassment words spoken, I just mainly felt a little bit more secure, and it was visible, too, to the other soldiers.

AMY GOODMAN: Did anything specifically happen to you?

SPC. MICKIELA MONTOYA: Yeah. That's why I would carry the knife. I remember it was really late, and over there they don't have electricity, so we run off generators, and if you scream or if you were to yell for help or anything like that, nobody could hear you, because you're not going to shoot a comrade, because these are your supposed battle buddies. So I would just use the knife as, I guess, a scare tactic, and it worked for me, because after that I never really had a problem.
................................................................
In response to a request from the NPR show "Day by Day" for comment on Benedict's allegations, the US military issued a statement that said it takes reports of sexual assault in the military seriously, and describes the measures the military is taking to deal with such reports: "...Sexual assault is a crime and is incompatible with military values. It inflicts incalculable harm on victims and their families; it tears at the very fabric of civilian and military communities; and it destroys trust among individuals and faith in our institutions. Our policy has three major components: prevention through education and training; enhanced treatment and support of victims to speed their recovery; and accountability measures to ensure system effectiveness..."

Finally, the Boston Globe reports that the US military is considering installing surveillance cameras in recruiting stations across the US in order to address a rise in misconduct allegations against recruiters. Those allegations include charges of sexual assault by military recruiters: "...More than 100 young women who had expressed interest in joining the military reported that their recruiters had victimized them, [an Associated Press] investigation found. The abuse included rape on couches in recruiting offices, assaults in government cars, and gropings en route to military entrance exams..."
15% of our active duty forces, and this kind of problem has been allowed to grow to this scale?
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:41 PM   #2
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Maybe AEON was right, a lot of the boys that sign up just can't keep it in their pants.
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:43 PM   #3
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It's horrifying, but my hunch is that too many men in the military think the solution is to get rid of women in the military rather than hold the men responsible and change the existing mentality. Kick the MEN out who can't act like human beings. And why the hell do they allow men in the military who would do such things?

This is so hurtful to me as a woman and a citizen of this country, that women who are sacrificing and risking their lives and dying are subjected to this.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
It's horrifying, but my hunch is that too many men in the military think the solution is to get rid of women in the military rather than hold the men responsible and change the existing mentality. Kick the MEN out who can't act like human beings. And why the hell do they allow men in the military who would do such things?

This is so hurtful to me as a woman and a citizen of this country, that women who are sacrificing and risking their lives and dying are subjected to this.
^ I can't say it any better than that.

I wonder if sexual harassment training is part of basic training? If it's not, that's pretty odd considering most employers in the US make employees do some form of sexual harassment training. There were units on it in almost all of my business, management, and ethics courses and I have to go to a training segment on it for my job in a few weeks. I hope the military doesn't think its members are so altruistic they are above needed these refresher courses. If anything, the sexual harassment training at least lets every person know exactly where the company stands as far as what is considered unacceptable and what the consequences will be.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:07 PM   #5
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I've never heard of such a course in Germany, neither that such a course existed at all.

Being a man I really have difficulties to understand why they can't keep themselves under control.

I'm sure some will come up and say it's due to the stress, but seriously, that's no excuse, and pretty weak as well.

That's really too much for me to understand.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
Maybe AEON was right, a lot of the boys that sign up just can't keep it in their pants.
No, it's women being temptresses in tents. You've got it all wrong.

This is really a disgrace. We should ask ourselves what kind of environment the military is fostering if such a substantial proportion of men is behaving criminally and treating women like nothing more than a chattel.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
Maybe AEON was right, a lot of the boys that sign up just can't keep it in their pants.
While I do think this indicates a real problem - until the problem is resolved each soldier is still accountable for his own actions.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
Maybe AEON was right, a lot of the boys that sign up just can't keep it in their pants.
This isn't to you, bvs, but the nuances in discussing this bother me. We refer to them as soldiers. We refer to it as men who are after sex or can't keep it in their pants (again, not you, I know you were being sarcastic, bvs). Why? It's a criminal act. It's not about sex for an offender in jail for rape. We say 'we expect more from the armed forces' and are disappointed and ashamed when they do something like this. We shouldn't be, and shouldn't expect more. We shouldn't put them up in high places. They're just ordinary people doing brave things. Ordinary people who are as capable as the rest of us as becoming criminals and committing criminal acts.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:49 PM   #9
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^ I agree with the general principle you're citing, but 2300 reported sexual assaults in one year is a jaw-droppingly high number, far, far above the average US rate relative to the size of the population in question (and that's not taking into account the much smaller number of women available to assault relative to the US as a whole). Something more is going on here than just the military proving to be a microcosm of its home society.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:52 PM   #10
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I agree with yolland. Domestic rates of sexual assault (reported) are not that high. So you do have to consider the context in trying to determine why the rates are so drastically elevated in the military. I don't think it has anything to do with us being shocked because we expect more from soldiers. To me, the real question is what sort of culture is the military fostering and how does that relate to the rash of of assaults we are seeing. Is it being run like some sort of antiquated old boys club? And why is there such an outcry to protect straight men in the military from women and gays when evidence clearly points here that the most criminal group of of those three is the first one.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:21 PM   #11
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I don't disagree with any of you, I was just making a general comment on how we stay focused on certain aspects which seems at the cost of others.
I also agree with the reported cases in general not being that high, and that is due to the contexts of domestic assaults and so on being the highest. Anyway, that is a separate issue. The psychology in rape and sexual assault probably has a real breeding ground or at least very appealing attraction in the military. If we consider what is known on the general psychological profile of someone who assaults, how well does that fit some of the character types who are drawn to the military? And we are only talking types here, while 15% is an alarmingly high number, there's still a ballpark figure of 80-90% who are not (or reportedly) like this.

Given the nature of sexual assault as a crime, I think it goes well beyond being a boys club or some such similar. I'm sure there are certainly an elevated number of incidents where that is the case, however, I'm wondering what the relationship between the types inside and outside of the military is, or if indeed there is any.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:39 PM   #12
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There is also a sharp rise in the number of soldiers committing suicide than their domestic counterparts. I don't think you can compare domestic rates of anything with those of the soldiers at war. It's a different animal. Lord knows I'm not defending here but obviously whatever is going on or goes on in war makes people do things that they may not do otherwise.

It's not about keeping it in their pants. It's a violent act that's taking place in a violent setting. Surely we can do better to protect our female soldiers though.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Liesje


^ I can't say it any better than that.

I wonder if sexual harassment training is part of basic training?

It is part of EVERY soldiers training YEARLY.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox


It is part of EVERY soldiers training YEARLY.
Thanks. Good to know.
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Old 03-19-2007, 07:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox


It is part of EVERY soldiers training YEARLY.


why isn't it working?

(and i don't mean to sound precious - honestly, what's going wrong here)
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Old 03-19-2007, 07:16 PM   #16
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The military by definition is a culture of force and violence. Add the presence of women as equals, threatening the status and hegemony of the men, and there you have it. Sexual harassment training isn't going to do shit to stop a rape.


And these are the men who are afraid of the big, bad homos? It seems that keeping straight men out of the armed forces might be a better idea.
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Old 03-19-2007, 07:20 PM   #17
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I cannot say. I have not been in combat for extended periods of time, away from my family for extended periods of time, on repeat trips into a combat zone for extended periods of time.

I can say that it has been my observation that STRESS in general brings out sides of people that are usually kept in check. My own addictive compulsiveness, for example, definitely gets worse and pieces of my personality, that I would love to convince myself are no longer there, come out.

Maybe, there are other stats, drinking durgs, depression, ect...ect...that are not being reported as well.

It does not excuse their behavior.....
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:14 AM   #18
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I don't doubt that the extraordinary pressures of a combat environment play a role here, and are in many cases a catalyst for male soldiers committing acts they probably wouldn't have otherwise. (And as Angela noted, in the big picture we're of course talking about a relatively small group of male soldiers here.) But that simply isn't an adequate response, as in this case these men's problems are having a direct and unacceptable effect on the safety and well-being of fellow soldiers, not to mention unit cohesion and morale.

This article, which was linked to in the salon piece cited by the Monitor, mentioned that the number of recruits admitted via waivers has increased 42% since the war in Iraq started, in an attempt to help meet recruiting goals. While I gather it's impossible to determine precisely what percentage of those recruits had criminal records including sex crimes, it's certainly a red flag with reference to this topic, I would think. Men with those kinds of records really shouldn't be in the military at all.

I can agree that "more sexual harassment training" probably (well, demonstrably) misses the mark as far as what exactly is going wrong here, but that huge spike in reported assaults even after the task force was commissioned makes it clear a better plan is needed. From the sound of it, perhaps one of the things they should prioritize is creating an environment in which female soldiers feel less reluctant to speak up when assaults occur for fear of reprisals, stigmatization, being branded as 'weak' and 'not able to cut it', etc. And of course, consistently treating assaulting a fellow soldier as the serious crime it is. While I can appreciate that it's perhaps a bit too easy to get careless with generalizations about 'the culture of the military' as a catchall explanation for the problem, on the other hand, to the extent that there may still be significant numbers of male soldiers who tend to regard female soldiers as unworthy and unwelcome interlopers, that too is unacceptable and only adds fuel to the fire.
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Old 03-20-2007, 12:19 AM   #19
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I agree with angie that a soldier is not something special but rather another person in society that decided to go shoot at things then rather sit at a desk, but what I find alarming is that this is in a place where trust is absolute tantamount!
How can a woman soldier go on a recon mission with some men if she is frightened they are going to gangbang her in the middle of the iraqi desert. I mean a soldier has to trust their fellow soldier with their LIFE, so I find that the fact there have been 2300 reported rapes in the last year or so to be absolutely disgusting in that sort of environment. I mean of course you're always going to get nutjopbs in the armed forces because you gotta be slighty off centre to be able to kill people (even if its in the name of your country) and obviously long periods without sex and stuff may cause some testosterone levels to rise or something, but maybe soldiers need to be injected with the hormone stuff they give sex offenders so for the length of their duty overseas they don't get horny?

i don't know - but obviously its a big problem because its not only a disgusting crime but is also detrimental to the working relationships between men and women soliders, which im sure has a detrimental affect to the way they go about their soldiering business (perhaps a rise in "accidental" iraqi civilian deaths to get out their fear and frustration?) either way every soldier rapist should be put on the next plane home, then via a dishonourable discharge court straight to gaol. Done.
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Old 03-20-2007, 07:06 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
to the extent that there may still be significant numbers of male soldiers who tend to regard female soldiers as unworthy and unwelcome interlopers, that too is unacceptable and only adds fuel to the fire.
I've noticed that when women begin to rise in status in a particular culture, the men in that culture tend to feel more threatened and lash out, usually using sexuality as a weapon. I'm thinking especially of Pakistan. I remember when Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister. During her tenure, porn, and the accompanying violence against women, became a serious problem there.
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