No fewer than 26,000 sexual assaults were reported by U.S. military service men and women in the year 2012 alone.
You read that right.
According to The New York Times, “Pentagon officials said nearly 26,000 active-duty men and women had responded to the sexual assault survey. Of those, 6.1 percent of women and 1.2 percent of men said they had experienced sexual assault in the past year, which the survey defined as everything from rape to “unwanted sexual touching” of genitalia, breasts, buttocks or inner thighs.
“From those percentages, the Pentagon extrapolated that 12,100 of the 203,000 women on active duty and 13,900 of the 1.2 million men on active duty had experienced some form of sexual assault.”
These numbers are simply unacceptable, especially when contrasted with the small number of sexual assault cases that were officially reported (ie, not via anonymous survey)–3,374—and the abysmal rate of actual conviction: only 238 assailants were convicted in 2012.
Most embarrassing for the military brass was the arrest last Sunday of the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, who was accused of having sexually assaulted a woman he did not know in a parking lot.
Way to lead, Air Force! Just when we thought the Tailhook scandal was becoming a distant memory.
I’m glad to see that some members of Congress—especially the women—are hopping mad and on the case, as today’s column from Maureen Dowd details.
Women who put their lives on the line to serve in the U.S. military deserve nothing but respect from their superiors and peers.
The question is, how is the military going to re-program its entire culture, from raw recruit to brigadier general, who have been raised to believe that “all women (and all gay men) want it,” that might makes right, and that superior officers can act with impunity towards those under their command?
How is the military—and, indeed, American culture at large—going to counter the billion-dollar American porn industry, that thrives on presenting women as objects of desire, yes, but also as objects of violence?
The truth is that what we’re seeing in military culture is just the tip of the iceberg of a much more deeply-rooted cultural problem.
Just as the military stood up to become the model for racial integration in the 1970s, it must now trailblaze the path to gender equality for us in the second decade of the 21st century.
Women who are now going to serve in combat, just the same as men, should not have to worry about “friendly fire” from male supervisors and peers.
To be honest, the idea of women breaking glass ceilings in the military does not thrill me.
I’d rather women work to create and broker non-violent institutions and solutions to problems.
But there is no excuse, ever, for sexualized violence against women or men.
The Lt. Col. Krusinskis of the world need to get their rocks off some other way, and the old-boy networks that have stood in the way of change on this issue have got to go.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, plans to introduce legislation that would take the adjudication of sexual assault cases outside of a victim’s chain of command. According to the New York Times editorial board, which supports the measure, “It would end the power of senior officers with no legal training but lots of conflicts of interest to decide whether courts-martial can be brought against subordinates and to toss out a jury verdict once it is rendered.”
President Obama said the right thing in response to the Krusinski arrest scandal, but it remains to be seen whether he can follow up his words with actions.
“If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged — period,” Mr. Obama said.
Got that, all 26,000 of you who committed sexual assault last year?
The jig is up.