Women Sue Pentagon Officials For Ignoring Rape Charges

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, fourteen current and former members of the U.S. military reported that that the Pentagon “turned a blind eye” while they were sexually harassed, assaulted and raped while on active duty by fellow military officers.  The numbers of reported sexual assaults in the military are increasing, while even the Pentagon admits that many are still never reported or charged.  An estimated one in four of these cases are criminally prosecuted. 

The lawsuit alleges that the Pentagon enabled rapists by refusing to reform a sexist culture or aggressively ensure that retaliation against women who filed complaints would not be an issue.  The suit specifically names Robert Gates and his predecessors, Donald Rumsfeld, as defendents, saying that they failed to deal with the problem.

In some incredibly disturbing testimony, one of the women claimed that she was drugged and gang-raped by two of her colleages while serving at an Oklahoma air force base – and that this happened only two months ago

Another woman said that within weeks of being deployed to Baghdad, she was attacked in a bathroom by a former sergeant.  Her commander’s response was to reassign the assaulter and to tell her that “this stuff happens.”

Yet another woman was raped by a colleague on her last day in Afghanistan.  He took pictures of the assault, which she was horrified to later find on a pornographic website.  Other women who complained to their commanders about assaults were told that they “did not act like a rape victim” and “did not struggle enough.”  Unbelievably, some men were not charged because authorities did not want to delay their scheduled return to the United States.

According to NBC, the suit alleges that government officials did not move actively against these cases, in some cases allowing rapists to go unpunished:

“[The suit] charges, for example, that Rumsfeld in 2004 delayed naming members to a commission mandated by Congress to investigate the military’s handling of sexual assault cases and resisted congressional oversight of the issue. It accuses Gates of violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by permitting military commanders to use “nonjudicial punishments” for accused rapists — and failing to meet a congressionally mandated deadline for creating a database that would centralize all reports of rapes and sexual assaults.”

Women’s rights advocates have been calling for strong reforms within the military’s sexist culture, which allows sexual assault to be inflicted with a shocking amount of impunity, for years. 

“A lawsuit like this is needed because change cannot happen on the inside. DoD has had literally decades, perhaps more, to change the culture within the military. They’ve proven that they can’t, and even the minor changes they’ve made the last few years are so superficial,” the director of the Service Women’s Action Network explained.

“It’s sad in a way that you have to file a lawsuit to get their attention,” said one of the plaintiffs.  But if that’s what it takes, these women deserve even more praise for standing up to a misogynistic establishment and demanding that such horrific violence end.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Military.

78 comments

Jacquelynn F.

1979.
18 years old.
The Army.
Germany, sent out to the field for the first time.
The only woman and 1500 men.
I was the Medic, they were Engineers.
Alone, in the dark being watched, only I didn't know
Vilseck, Germany after two weeks without a shower, we were allowed to go to Tent city for 2 days.
Much Celebrating. Much Drinking. After showers the partying started.
I was invited.
A cute boy
Fun
free drinks
more drinks
Something wrong....
Room spinning
Dizzy
can't walk
being carried
pass out
wake up
can't move
tied up
can't talk
gag in mouth
voices
someone on me
wet between the legs
laughter
another body on me
tears
another body
all night
over and over again
how many?
Don't know
too many
over and over again
thrusting
sweaty
pawing
pain
tearing
more laughter
in and out of conscience
how many?
could be twenty
could be a hundred
all ranks
all sizes
all ages
all penises
all thrusting
all sweating
lots of pain
smell of greasy tent
smell of booze
smell of tobacco
smell of man sweat
smell of semen
smell of sex
all thrusting
all groping
all squeezing
all pawing
only one, who when he saw my tears, stopped in his tracks
But he walked out, and another came in to take his place
over and over again
no help
none in sight
all night long
in and out of reality
in and out of dreams
more body's
more men
more thrusting
how many hours?
finally the sweet release of awareness
awakening
naked
in the showers
bruises and b

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Marg Wood
Marg W6 years ago

Jen F. Rape is not about sex it is about power and control! You are blaming the victims. No one joins the military expecting to be raped. Men who rape women are sick sociopaths!

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Lori Esposito
Lori E7 years ago

Horrible, these women are fighting for our country and this is how they are treated. They are no better then the military in other countries that rape their women.

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Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

In the military, "change cannot happen from the inside" -- no truer words have been spoken. And that this has gone on for so long, and with so many women, ... and essentially, the men wink and laugh. Disgusting. I hope that the lawsuit succeeds, but my gut feeling is, "fat chance."

These women have committed to defending their country, just as have the men they are serving alongside. The men should feel ashamed to have treated their comrades without respect. I'm for an eye for an eye >> castration for the perps and dishonorable discharge for the commanders.

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Gene Sengstake
Gene Sengstake7 years ago

Sad commentary on our military that the "men" of honor in our armed services allow this to happen - and that some of the bastards responsible for these atrocities are "allowed" to walk away from such a despicable crime with their balls intact - - -

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Karen N.
Karen Nelson7 years ago

I was lucky when I was in the military years ago, but I know how this happens. The attitude of some members makes it hard for those that want to see change. Women can server with honor if the laws are obeyed and the guilty are punished.

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Elgrit B.

Evidentally the military bosses don't give a darn for women. They were always primarily men and probably resemt tje women for trying to be part of the military. I wonder how they would feel if they were the victims of rape. They'd probably loe it but it is not that way for women and the men should accept that fact.

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Dean Palek
Dean P7 years ago

Ashamed of this behavior by the military people from all over the globe!

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Martha Pendino
Past Member 7 years ago

Women still have a long way to go. I am deeply saddened with the plight of women in the military. I hope that the strong action by these women will send a message. Too bad they didn't use their service revolver.

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Dagmar Bajinski
Past Member 7 years ago

I'm so disgusted! I wish one could make all these "men" suffer what these women had to suffer. My highest respects to each of these women and I wonder who are the morons that voted with "no". They probably share one brain cell.

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