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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Oh, I didn't realize there were (4+ / 0-)

    no more new diaries posted on the front page.  How will people outside of my "groups" notice this and rec it?

    DK4. Not sure I like it.

  •  I found it immediately, on the Diaries Page. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betson08, meralda

    Excellent diary!

    I believe I remember that diary of a year ago. The smarmy, condescending guy who spammed the page, claimed he was an army lawyer, didn't he?

    That was also an excellent diary!

    Finding our true selves is key to empowerment in whatever life situations we face. ~Oke

    by denig on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 10:41:09 AM PST

    •  Thanks. It just took a few to figure it out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Now I think I have it.

    •  I've commented in many a diary on military issues (0+ / 0-)

      so I don't know whether I'm the "smarmy, condescending guy" you reference or not, but if so, it isn't a claim that I am an army lawyer, it is true.

      You are certainly free to disagree with whatever I say, I don't pretend to have a premium on the truth, but there is nothing smarmy or condescending about any of my posts.

      They could be wrong, certainly I don't think, few people write stuff intentionally that they think is wrong, but my views/thoughts are sincere and are in fact borne out of observations and a decent knowledge of criminal law.

      •  Truly a strange post (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        betson08, arlene, Tchrldy

        If there is nothing smarmy or condescending about any of your posts, then I must surely be speaking of someone else.  
        I am not sure why you think, I was referring to you.

        As far as the person in question, I have no way of knowing whether or not, they were a lawyer, this being the net and all. I have no reason, either, to think they were not. Therefore I said 'claimed to be'.  Seemed the simplest way to phrase it. It was not meant as question to their credentials. Being smarmy and condescending does not preclude one from being a lawyer, last I looked.

        It was a long time ago. Yet I still remember the event. That person posted the same stuff over and over and over again. They seemed to think they were not being heard or that their audience could not or would not grasp, what they were saying. But in truth, it was the other way round. They had trouble listening or understanding what was being said to them. And it just came off as condescending.

        And a little smarmy.

        If you don't that sort of thing, then it's not you.

        Finding our true selves is key to empowerment in whatever life situations we face. ~Oke

        by denig on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:09:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  well (0+ / 0-)

          there aren't exactly a lot of military lawyers on here, and some folks aren't happy with my posts in this arena.

          And smarmy and condescending are pretty subjective words, so again I have/had no idea who you were referring to.

          So from my pov it could have been me and also it could be that I don't do that sort of thing. At any rate, I'm a big fan of folks just addressing what the facts are as opposed to bringing personal things into it. Maybe that person didn't intend to be smarmy or condescending, maybe they simply thought folks weren't getting what they were arguing.

          •  thank you for your personal opinion. (0+ / 0-)

            Since you have no knowledge of the facts involved, I believe I will defer to my own judgment , if you don't mind.

            Unless of course, it was you. In which case,  I believe I will also defer to my own judgment.

            I did read some of your posts in this thread. you seem to be saying that the rape issue, is the same in or out of the military. Whether that is true or not, it does not negate the points the diarist brought up. It just sidetracks the issues.

            Finding our true selves is key to empowerment in whatever life situations we face. ~Oke

            by denig on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:29:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

              didn't say anything like that at all, I asked questions.

              I talked about what the military is doing, and asked how that compared to the civilian world.

              I also asked what folks specifically thought that right looked like and what specific things they thought the military was doing wrong and/or needed to do right.

              I wasn't trying to "negate" anything, nor do those questions "sidetrack" the issue. They are the issue, unless you stop at, the military sucks at rape prosecutions and don't dig any deeper than that.

              •  The person on the other diary (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                was demanding that I delete the diary in yes, a condescending and authoritarian way. Moreover, he continued to invade the threads with the same comment over and over again. If that's your MO it was you, if not then it's not.

                The military DOES suck at rape prosecutions. It's not just the number relative to the rest of the population, it's what happens to women who report the rapes, which is unusual in this day in age. Even if you can make the case that there aren't more rapes than in the overall population, which I have not seen any data either way on, this lawsuit is about how the cases that are reported are treated.

                And in the civilian population you report rapes to the police and at most hospitals you have nurses who are trained to gather evidence, called SANE nurses. I don't see any evidence that the military is providing this for deployed women, or even women who go hiking in VT with their counterparts.

                I find it totally appalling. This publicity will help things change, as will the SWAN group

                •  what this lawsuit is about (0+ / 0-)

                  is a handful of egregious allegation, that if true, are horrible, but still a handful.

                  Do you think that one could not pull up a similar number of egregious allegations in the civilian world? More in fact?
                  And guess what, military hospitals have SANE nurses too, and rape kits (and in the military, unlike the civilian world, the victims don't have to PAY for them to be done).

                  This is the problem. You've made assumption that simply aren't true. I've never done or seen a rape trial in the military that didn't have a SANE nurse involved, that didn't have a rape kit done, that didn't have a victim advocate involved at every step of the case, and I've only seen one that didn't have a rape trauma expert at trial, and that was only because the prosecutor in that case was an idiot.

                  What happens to women in the military is different than what happens in the civilian world how? Do women in the civilian world have dedicated victim advocates who for free are notified as soon as they report?

                  I don't assert that the military is perfect, or even good, but again, if the military "sucks" at rape prosecutions then the civilian world sucks even more in many ways.

                  •  you seem to be saying that the rape issue, is the (0+ / 0-)

                     same in or out of the military.

                    I wrote that and you responded


                    didn't say anything like that at all, I asked questions."

                    you write lines like this:

                    "Do you think that one could not pull up a similar number of egregious allegations in the civilian world? More in fact?

                    Yes that could be contrused as a question.  But that's just cover for saying, 'it is the same in or out of the military'. Oh wait, you are actually saying, it is worse in the "civilian world".

                    And then you deny you did anything of the sort.

                    That puts all your claims into question.

                    Finding our true selves is key to empowerment in whatever life situations we face. ~Oke

                    by denig on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 03:26:45 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  it's like english is your second language (0+ / 0-)

                      I don't seem to be saying anything. I have not said rape is the same in and out of the military, I said IS rape the same?

                      Your focus on the quoted material is laughable. The point that clearly escapes you is that citing to a handful of egregious allegations as proof of anything larger is silly.

                      Proof will come from ACTUAL evidence, you know statistics that show that rapes are prosecuted at a lower rate in the military than the civilian world.

                      Let me be very simple for you, since that apparently is all you will understand:

                      Neither do you, but you've decided that it must be one way because you come at it with a bias that says the military MUST be doing a worse job. I instead say IS the military doing a worse job? WHAT can the military do better if it IS doing a worse job? WHAT exactly is the military doing wrong? WHAT exactly does a good job even look like?

                      It's not worth discussing with you if you are incapable of understanding basic concepts or reading what is actually written without trying to place your own guesses as to my motivations and honesty on it.

                      •  Resulting to personal insults? (0+ / 0-)

                        Would you perhaps care to amend your comment, that you never write in a condescending manner?

                        English as my second language?

                        Is that meant as an insult?

                        Do you consider yourself a logical, thoughtful, unprejudiced person?

                        It's not worth discussing with you if you are incapable of understanding basic concepts or reading what is actually written without trying to place your own guesses as to my motivations and honesty on it.

                        I was just thinking the same thing about you.

                        Funny, isn't it?

                        Finding our true selves is key to empowerment in whatever life situations we face. ~Oke

                        by denig on Fri Feb 18, 2011 at 12:04:41 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

  •  What I saw when working on a base (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denig, CherryTheTart

    as a civilian, was that a woman from Civil Affairs was being stalked by a fellow soldier. The background to this was we were working in a Cuban refugee camp, and the camp was very quiet and everyone working in the camp got along great. This wasn't true everywhere.

    So what did they do? SHE was the one who was transferred, as if SHE were the one who had done something wrong.

    Now I will cede that they protected her in their own way, but not without punishing her in the process.

  •  So here are my thoughts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eataTREE, erush1345

    undoubtedly will be unpopular. But being a military attorney, mostly in criminal law, all in defense, please allow me to ask some questions/make some observations.

    1. The military has both private and criminal reporting avenues which are heavily publicized. There are rape victim advocates at every single base. There are special prosecutors whose only job is prosecuting sexual assault crimes. We've changed the law to remove lack of consent as an element required to be proven by the government in rape case. There is annual rape/sexual assault training that is mandatory. There is often additional training on this as well. The military has also brought in "High Quality Experts" from the civilian world to assist in rape prosecutions.

    I note all of these facts to ask, is this better, worse, or the same as in the civilian world? Because from my POV, I don't see any civilian arena that does it better, but admittedly perhaps there is, so I ask the question.

    2. The article notes only 1 out of 5 make it to trial. So my question then is, what is the rate of allegations in the civilian world that make it to trial? If 1/5 is bad, what is good? 2/5? Certainly not every accusation should make it to trial, but what is acceptable? Should it be similar to the civilian rate? Better?

    3. What specifically is the military doing wrong in the vein of sexual assault prosecutions? Other than "prosecute more" which really isn't helpful guidance, what else?

    4. What about constitutional concerns. We already have rule 412 which takes out almost all sexually related character evidence of the alleged victim, and we have rule 413 which can let even a prior acquittal for a rape charge come in as possible evidence of propensity of the accused. What additional factors do we want to change procedurally, if any? The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in US v. Prather just ruled half of the military's rape statute unconstitutional because it placed the burden of proving consent on the accused in lack of consent cases. Now what do we do?

    My personal belief is that the military is no more flawed in how we handle these things than the civilian world. That is not to say, that is a good thing. But to me it isn't the system itself that needs fixing, it's the mentalities of the people involved in the system. It's about education.

    While I am not a big fan of "counter-intuitive" behaviors as it is preached by rape trauma specialists, I do believe there is no one way to "act" like a rape victim, and people need to be educated that like any other traumatic event, people can act in different ways.

    At the end of the day, I see all of the changes over the last decade, and from my defense attorney mindset, none of them have been with the accused in mind, and yet still the argument is we aren't doing it right, so, what specifically needs to be changed?

    •  From what Bob Gates is saying (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denig, brasilaaron

      he's trying from his end but not enough is happening down the line.

      At the very least the COs have to be trained in how to deal with this. There is zero tolerance for a bunch of other behaviors so why not rape?

      •  They are trained (0+ / 0-)

        They come to the JAG School and receive training in this along with a lot of other legal areas (both BDE level and BN level commanders).

        Now, could they use more? Sure. Quite frankly we give them just a surface view of all legal areas. But they are given their own attorneys, in fact, at the BDE level they are given two, a major and a captain usually.

        They also have a LTC or COL staff judge advocate, a Chief of Justice Major (think of it as a senior prosecutor).

        Part of the problem though is that in the military system, the lawyers are only advisers. So prosecutors don't have the final call on who gets prosecuted or not, commander's do. So those that listen to their attorneys usually don't go wrong, those that don't...

        The words zero tolerance are used, although the military has to be careful of what is called unlawful command influence which is a creature of the whole commander presses charges, decides whether to go to trial and oh, picks the jury too, and then decides clemency.

        It's a complicated web in the military, and we do tend to give more rights overall to military accused in most areas than civilian defendants see. I think that's a good thing.

        The reality is that the commanders who said stuff out loud in these cases about "she didn't act like a rape victim" are just going to clam up next time or say, the evidence just wasn't strong enough.

        Education is what needs to be ramped up, I agree. However, our society has a lot of competing and conflicting thoughts about rape and sexual assault that are not in any way specific to the military.

    •  Here's some good info from DOJ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Office of Violence Against Women.
      You can compare it with stats from the military.

      •  it's good info (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        for the relative occurrences of rape but unfortunately it doesn't have any info that i could see on the number of reported allegations versus the number of cases taken to trial in the civilian world, which appears to be the main concern here (reports v. trials).

        •  ok I will look for that (0+ / 0-)

          and get back to you

          •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

            I am truly interested in how things flesh out between the two "societies."

            I honestly don't have any experience in how "the other half" works when it comes to prosecutoral discretion.

            •  As I said above (0+ / 0-)

              It's not gonna be the straight stats between the two populations as to incidences of rape and prosecutorial discretion. It's difficult to compare a population "at large" so to speak with one in a supervised environment.

              What this situation does remind me of is the problems of Native American women being raped and then nothing happens to the rapists. That's why it gets my dander up.

              Lets see how this all plays out.

  •  Navy Wife for 15 years. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Rape is all too common. Date rape was practically an epidemic when we were statioend in Japn 1994-2001.  You'd get young women jsut out of A school, able to drink for the first time, and there's be guys  lining up in the bars deliberately gettingt hem trashed so they'd be too drunk to say no to sex.  A LOT of girls got pregnant int he frst 6 months. ANd, thanks to the Hyde AMendment,  abortions weren't avaialble (CLinton MAY have lfited the ban and allowed them to pay for it, but I amnot sure). If they wanted to go to the states for an abortion,t hey had to pay for their flight home,and give a good reason applying for leave because they hadn't been in country long enough to really jsutify it, pay for a hotel while they found a clinic, etc.  NO ONE had that kind of moeny, which meant a lot of  very young mothers.   SUre,t hey could have gone to a Japanese clinic, but  they'd have needed a translator.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:46:36 PM PST

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