As one woman solider observed, “There are only three things the guys let you be if you’re a girl in the military – a bitch, a ho, or a dyke.”
Or – as it turns out – their prey.
A new study, Factors Associated with Women’s Risk of Rape in the Military Environment, reveals that 1 in 3 women are raped in the military. That means that simply by joining the military a woman automatically increases her chances of being raped.
And that’s not all. Researchers found that 37% of attempted raped and raped women also reported being raped more than once and 14% of them reported being gang raped.
What’s worse? Seventy-five percent of raped women in the military aren’t reporting the crimes, which means women suffer in silence and rapists walk free.
This week, Veterans for Peace (VFP), a national organization of veterans working together for peace and justice through nonviolence, recognizes this epidemic problem with Military Rape Awareness Week.
In New York City on Tuesday, October 13th members of VFP, Iraq Veterans against the War, Granny Peace Brigade, Codepink: Women for Peace, World Can’t Wait, Artists Response Team, We will not be Silent, and V-Day will gather at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square to warn potential women recruits about the alarming rates of sexual assault and rape of women in the military. VFP chapters will host similar events at Armed Forces Recruiting stations across the country so women who are thinking about joining the military and well informed of the problem or sexual assault and rape.
The U.S. Army has also created a campaign to combat sexual assaults. “I. A.M. STRONG” encourages soldiers to “intervene, act, and motivate others to stop sexual assaults and the sexually offensive language and gestures that create an environment friendly to this abuse.” But this is not enough. Congress and the Department of Defense need to do their part to help put an end to this violence.
In 2005, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld formed a task force on sexual assault after rates of sexual assault and rape of women and men in the military increased so dramatically during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The task force, however, did not meet until 3 years later in 2008. According to their website, they are currently conducting an examination of sexual assault in the military. When this will be completed or made public is a mystery, but women cannot wait another 3 years. They can’t – and shouldn’t have to – wait another minute. We need policies and protections put in place now so women in the military can do their jobs free from the fear of rape.
Women join the military with the knowledge that they are risking their lives. Little do they know that so much of the violence they face will be inflicted by their fellow Americans. The fact is that a woman in the military is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.
That is incredible. These are women who willingly and courageously risk their lives so that we are safe and protected. The expect to work together with their fellow soldiers, not against them. They expect a sense of loyalty to one another, not betrayal.
They expect war against our enemies, not each other.
Learn what you can do to help combat rape agaisnt women in the military at veteransofpeace.org!
Photo originally from the Sexual Harassment / Assault Response & Prevention website - http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/index.cfm#