Two things sparked this diary:
1. Yesterday, the minister-trainee of my local Unitarian Church teared up with anger during his sermon when talking about how the military doesn't properly care for its veterans (he's been working with vets with PTSD),
2. News of a lawsuit today that made me think about a guy (assuming this, you'll see why) who invaded every thread in a diary I wrote on this issue last year demanding that I take it down because the military of course properly treats all women who have been raped by their male counterparts. Um.....NOT.
Women serving in the military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed in the line of fire.
Now they're suing to force the government to change the way it handles rape cases. Sad that the military top brass didn't have the integrity to change without the pressure of a lawsuit....
From am AP article on Yahoo News just posted:
"The problem of rape in the military is not only service members getting raped, but it's the entire way that the military as a whole is dealing with it," said Panayiota Bertzikis, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit and claims she was raped in 2006. "From survivors having to be involuntarily discharged from service, the constant verbal abuse, once a survivor does come forward your entire unit is known to turn their back on you. The entire culture needs to be changed."
My diary was about women having to seek medical attention off base if they're raped, just because of how rapes are handled, and the medical insurance implications of this. Well, that seems to have been the tip of the iceberg.
Today a dozen women and two men filed class action lawsuit naming the Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alleging that servicemen are getting away with rape and other sexual abuse and too often the victims have to continue serving in their units right next to them.
The incidents themselves are infuriating. We have tried to eliminate these kinds of things in civilian rape cases. Can't we have enough respect for women who risk their lives by going into the military to give them the same rights?
In one incident, an Army Reservist says two male colleagues raped her in Iraq and videotaped the attack. She complained to authorities after the men circulated the video to colleagues. Despite being bruised from her shoulders to elbows from being held down, she says charges weren't filed because the commander determined she "did not act like a rape victim" and "did not struggle enough" and authorities said they didn't want to delay the scheduled return of the alleged attackers to the United States.
How about this one:
Bertzikis, 29, of Somerville, Mass., now is executive director of the Military Rape Crisis Center. She says she was raped by a Coast Guard shipmate while out on a social hike with him in Burlington, Vt. Bertzikis complained to her commanding officer, but she said authorities did not take substantial steps to investigate the matter. Instead, she said, they forced her to live on the same floor as the man she had accused and tolerated others calling her a "liar" and "whore."
Part of the problem is that it looks bad for military commanders to have rapes occur in their unit. So, how convenient. If they don't report rapes, they don't happen!! Their records are "clean." How they can sleep with themselves at night, I don't know, but those records are "clean"!!
Well, even if they are reported, only one in five of these cases are referred for Court Marshall. Another reason for a commander not to "bother." Unit commanders are usually the judge and jury in these kinds of cases.
But you'd think at least these superior officers wouldnt' heap on more abuse themselves.....
Clearly there wasn't anything "superior" about this officer:
Kori Cioca....described being hit in the face by a superior in one incident in 2005 and being raped by the same man in a second incident soon after while serving in the Coast Guard in Bay City, Mich.
Even though the man confessed to having sex with her, Cioca said in the lawsuit she was told if she pressed forward with reporting the sex as a rape, she would be court-martialed for lying. She said the man pleaded guilty only to hitting her and his punishment was a minor loss of pay and being forced to stay on the base for 30 days. She said she was discharged from the military for a "history of inappropriate relationships."
Now, these are military women. You think they're going to continue to take this? NO. Some of them are mobilizing....
They have created the Service Women's Action Network SWAN, to help each other and pressure for change.
You can help them out in two ways. Use the DONATE button on their home page.
Sign THIS petition , also from their website.
This is the group that initiated this lawsuit today.
Here's what SWAN does, according to its website:
SWAN advocates for all military women, in order to increase their visibility and access to equal protection, opportunities and benefits.
SWAN works to educate policymakers at the local, state, and federal level about the needs of military women and ensure that legislation that would adequately address their needs is supported.
SWAN partners with other organizations and law firms to pursue changes in policies and institutions through the courts.
SWAN provides a variety of outlets for women veterans to experience creative and personal growth by learning new activities and acquiring new skills.
The Today Show covered the story. Here is the segment. The woman is talking about being raped by her fellow solider, who filmed it and posted it on the Internet.
SWAN is also speaking at the National Press Club today (probably NOW)
You can find the entire text of their lawsuit HERE.
Please support SWAN. Sign the petition. If you can, press that "donate" button on their website.
This has to stop.