Friday, March 09, 2007

Military women in Iraq getting raped by their fellow US soldiers

Thanks to West of Shockoe for the heads up about this:

Sexual assault of female US soldiers by their male colleagues in Iraq is a widely known problem, reports Comprehensive statistics on the sexual assault of female soldiers in Iraq have not been collected, but early numbers revealed a problem so bad that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered a task force in 2004 to investigate. The military's definition of sexual assault includes "rape; nonconsensual sodomy; unwanted inappropriate sexual contact or fondling; or attempts to commit these acts." article
"The knife wasn't for the Iraqis," she told me. "It was for the guys on my own side."

I am so outraged at this! This is truly a case of "if you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention." It makes it very hard to go on living a mundane, everyday life when injustices like this are happening within our own military. As if the military doesn't have enough bad image to deal with right now. They're not doing a so great job at making us support them with stuff like this.

I've got to say I'm not surprised that this kind of hush-hush and suppression of detractors or tattletales happens in the military because isn't that always how it's been for a long time? An individual doesn't have independent thought--you work as a unit. The military still has lots of "good ole boys club" in its blood. I would think that it'd be very hard to stand up and have integrity as just one of the cogs in the system. As with any institution, if you don't have any power or status, you don't have the ability to effect change.

Not having been in their shoes, it's easy for me and others to say "Well how come the women aren't saying anything?" You can't know how you'd react in that situation until it really happens, especially with the stigma of sexual assault, and how restrictive the military is. As one of the women said:
Jennifer Spranger, 23, who was deployed at the beginning of the war with the Military Police to build and guard Camp Bucca, a prison camp for Iraqis, had a similar experience. "My team leader offered me up to $250 for a hand job. He would always make sure that we were out alone together at the beginning, and he wouldn't stop pressuring me for sex. If somebody did that to my daughter I'd want to kill the guy. But you can't fit in if you make waves about it. You rat somebody out, you're screwed. You're gonna be a loner until they eventually push you out."

And there's more to that. Fellow soldiers thinking you're a traitor because you've reported a rape, no women counselors, no way to report anonymously. It makes me want to cry.

And then there's the classic typecasting as listed here:
"There are only three kinds of female the men let you be in the military: a bitch, a ho or a dyke."

This is all relevant to recent events as well, because any time my seemingly liberal, progressive-thinking friends claim that "women are equal already," my answer to that is always one word: "RAPE". As long as rape happens in the scale and quantity that it does, all over the world, but especially in developed nations, women are not equal. This is also related to an ongoing discussion I've been having with some people, and had with some friends at an art reception the other night about sex workers/prostitution/porn and whether that was an act of oppression or not. More posts about that later.