Friday, August 1, 2008

Following up

A while ago, I posted a blog about the U.N. classifying rape as a weapon of war, and the blog includes some information about the number of women in the U.S. military who are raped or sexually assaulted by their own troop members. I came across this CNN story yesterday, which is about a House panel investigating the way the military handles reports of sexual assault among its own troops.

Here's something pretty outstanding from the article:

In 2007, Harman said, only 181 out of 2,212 reports of military sexual assaults, or 8 percent, were referred to courts martial. By comparison, she said, 40 percent of those arrested in the civilian world on such charges are prosecuted.

Defense statistics show that military commanders took unspecified action, which can include anything from punishment to dismissal, in an additional 419 cases.

But when it came time for the military to defend itself, the panel was told that the Pentagon's top official on sexual abuse, Dr. Kaye Whitley, was ordered not to show up despite a subpoena.

I don't know, obviously, why she didn't show up or if it's even true that she was ordered not to show up; regardless, I hope action is taken and that someday women in the military will be more comfortable reporting such crimes, and that the military as a whole will take their reports seriously. From everything I've read on the topic, the way the military treats most of these cases is indefensible.


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