War Among Comrades: 1 in 3 Women Raped in the Military

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#


Anne Woods
Anne Woods5 years ago

ok I think the men who commit this heinous crime should be tied down and sodomised... oh wait they'd probably like it, freaks

Mak A.
Mak Ara9 years ago

I am a survivor of military rape in bootcamp. I spent 17 years as a homeless vet as a result. I finally got compensation from VA for 100% permanent disability. I feel this hazard needs to be part of the recruiting information, as is asbestos exposure. Rape of both women and men in the military is a shameful representation of the unhappiness and lack of control American males feel in this culture. The more people know and recognize this problem, the sooner it will be healed. I am amazed at how many parents encourage their children to serve in the military yet they don't know the rape statistics. Parents need to be more educated on this subject and the military should be forced to be more honest about this in their recruiting process.

Kathryn Queen
Sally T9 years ago

A general journalistic point; If youre going to use acronyms, it is helpful to use the expanded version of what they represnt just once, then use the acronym after that...

Julie L.
Julie L9 years ago

The VFP tried to do what is right by having this MRAW but look at what it really is doing... telling potential girls and women that if they sign up for the military the chances she will be ostracized and violated just doubled. That is not really the intent of having it, but that is the end result. It's a good thing that we bring awareness to such a silent crime to light but is really by telling girls that want to fight for a country that they love so much they are willing to die for it that not only are you a soldier but now a whore the way we want to do it?

MRAW should be used to be as guidence for those who are victims. As a way to expose faults in the chain of command that turn a deaf ear to it. As a support system to those who have none. The method that the VFP were going to "celebrate" was to stand outside recruiter's offices with picket signs saying 1 in 3 women will be raped in the military today... That is counter-productive.

Women have fought too hard to run from this kind of problem. What needs to happen is a better eduaction system for soldiers. Women need to know the signs of potential assailents, where they can go for help, what to do if their chain of command won't help them and how to avoid being wrongfully discharged.

Brad C.
Brad C9 years ago

Thank you Ximena. forwarded and cross posted and tweeted. My ex-wife was in the Guard and was a victim. Her report fell on deaf ears as well.

Monica D.
Monica D9 years ago

Dreadful! This should be kept in the public spotlight and offenders dealt with. The women need to be protected.

It is such a shame, but working with others can be a very risky proposition in all sorts of ways. And not just in the military.

Karen S.
Karen S9 years ago

I was in the Army for nearly 9 years and never experienced this sort of attack or disrespect. I can't imagine what has happened in the 30 years since I've been out! My daughter is right now in ROTC in college, looking forward to a military career. How can I let her do this, knowing what this study has revealed? What a terrible, terrible thing. What has happened to the men of this country, that they prey on each other and the women who serve beside them? We, as a society, have got to stop looking away from the dirty secrets and expose all of the evil to the cleansing light of decency and honor! All of our institutions, from education to law enforcement to government to the military, are seeped in narcissistic despair. We have got to recover ourselves, demand honesty from our leaders, and common sense from each other!

David K.
Dave K9 years ago

"I wonder what would happen, if these same soldiers RAPED OTHER MEN ????? Probably all hell would break loose"

Actually, male victims are less likely to report being raped than women... in particular, because it makes them feel unmanned because they couldn't stop it. Rapes are also among the first things that happen to young guys in the prison system, and I don't hear alot of outrage about that in the media... although police and rehab councilors love using these prison horror stories to "scare people straight". Very effective, too, because being raped in prison is not something I ever want to experience.

Apparently, it happens in the military too. In his movie "Platoon", Oliver stone wrote a scene in which the lieutenant refuses an offer of beer because "I wouldn't wanna get raped by you guys!"

Oliver wrote the whole movie about his own experiences and those of his fellow soldiers while fighting in Vietnam.

AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A9 years ago

Every one who reads and does not condemn this action is as sick as the "BRAVE USA Soldiers"
Everyone they fight is classified as a coward - does this also mean their female colleagues are cowards too because the Brave boys are fighting against them???
What a sick bunch of CRACK POTS and can you blame them too much - if they are told to destroy hundreds or thousands of lives without any remourse?
If They are capable of raping their own then what are they like with non American they are sent to kill?
This brings shame to America and Americans- they need to be taught the value of human life and feelings but that will mean they are no longer good KILLERS.

Davie Parker
David P9 years ago

Unfortunately the truth is that many in the armed forces are mentally ill, violent and criminally minded. Where can one go to legally kill and destroy? The military.
Our prisons are full, so sociopaths are sent to the military.
Today's military is very far removed from the more ethical military of the 40s, when it was comprised of Christian farm boys who gave their lives saving the world from fascism.

For the most part, today's military, and this is common worldwide, is a repository and tool of cruelty, violence, abuse and injustice. The unnecessary, destructive and life-destroying war in Iraq is but one example. It's true, power corrupts.