- In 2011, the Pentagon ruled in civilian court that rape and sexual assault are occupational hazards for women in the military.
- One in three of active-duty women serving in the U.S. military have reported being the victim of sexual assault while serving, which is double the rate for civilians.
- An estimated only 13.5% of rapes and sexual assaults in the military are reported, and only 8% of these are brought to trial.
Why does such a small percentage of these crimes receive justice? Why does such a small percentage get reported? Why do so many sexual assaults occur in the first place? Why is the military so dangerous for women, not because of outside hostiles, but because of their fellow servicemen?
Protect Our Defenders is another human rights organization that seeks to "honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members. [They also] seek to fix the military training, investigation and adjudication systems related to sexual violence and harassment — systems that often re-victimize assault survivors by blaming them while failing to prosecute perpetrators". Their website contains news updates, statistics, policies and recommendations for policy changes, survivor stories, resources and more. I highly recommend visiting it if you'd like to learn more on this issue.
Another powerful source of information is a documentary film entitled 'The Invisible War', which unveils the statistics, the experiences of survivors, and the policies that reinforce a military culture which protects criminals while creating a mental, physical and professional trap for the victims. The documentary interviews a number of people (mostly women, but also a few men) who share their experience being sexually assaulted, reporting the crime, being denied medical help as well as justice, and often being punished themselves instead. Everyone should see this film and inform themselves, especially those considering joining the military.A major message in the film is the need for a method of reporting these crimes that holds the perpetrators accountable and doesn't punish the survivors. Ben Klay, a former Marine whose wife is also a former Marine and a survivor of sexual assault by two of her fellow officers, blames the system of required reporting to a commanding officer. According to Klay: “The ultimate betrayal is the senior leadership. It’s not farfetched that there are bad people in this world but it baffles the mind to think that the most powerful and possibly the most respected institution in the United States perpetuates, condones, covers up rape and attacks the women, who have been raped in the most degrading way.”
Associated with the film is also a movement called 'Invisible No More' which works to end sexual assault in the military and assist survivors. Their website has a page for Taking Action which contains four steps any person can do to help the movement progress.
We send our military off to fight for us on the frontlines.
We need to fight for them as well.
Get informed. Educate others. Take action.
Tell the Department of Defense that rape should NOT an occupational hazard.
Together we are not invisible.