Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) has consistently raised the specter of military sexual assaults across all branches and assignments of the uniformed services, citing cases each month from the floor of the House. Today, a general reported 60 confirmed cases of assault/inappropriate conduct at a Texas air base involving 32 instructors.
One veteran was quoted,“None of my friends who were raped on active duty reported it. Or if we tried, we were told to shut up for ‘morale.’ Working with your rapist on a daily basis isn’t a lot of fun,believe me.”
During the Civil War, rapists in uniform were hanged or shot. The Archives list 74 capital sentences for sexual assaults. Now, military women are more likely to be raped than killed by enemy fire. The Defense expert ignored a 2008 House committee subpoena and refused to testify. During the Iraq war, it was not safe for women to shower alone.
Military culture still blames victims. If some military men at the top are using power as an aphrodisiac, down through the ranks other military men escape accountability and scrutiny, and use force to make women submit to sex against their own will. This scandal should emerge from the shadows. Review the leadership but also focus on the entire culture, which is pervasive with violence against women. That will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the military, on women in service, and on the safety and security of women around the world.