If you’re a female soldier in the U.S. military, you have a greater chance of being raped by a fellow soldier than being killed by the enemy.
The furor over expelling gays from the military has drowned out the far worse problem of sexual assault. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is a policy of discrimination; rape is a crime of violence. You know the problem is serious when the Pentagon created a special sexual assault Web site last month.
In FY 2008, there were 2,293 reports of sexual assaults among active-duty troops, including 165 in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon officials. Yet even the military admits that only 10 to 20 percent of rapes are actually reported. Less than 10 percent result in a court martial, while 40 percent of rape cases are prosecuted in the civilian world, claims Rep. Jane Harman.
“I practiced how to take it out of my pocket and swing it out fast. But I wasn’t carrying the knife for the enemy, I was carrying it for the guys on my own side,” a female veteran of Iraq told author Helen Benedict.
Compounding the horrors of rape are the consequences of reporting it. Most military rape victims are discharged from the service against their will because they are considered too traumatized to continue serving, according to the Military Rape Crisis Center, a volunteer organization of female veterans. By the way, male soldiers are also raped.
This is Memorial Day weekend, when amidst the picnics and barbecues, we remember those who have fallen in the service of our country. But not every victim is buried at Arlington. Sexual assault demeans their sacrifices.