Sexual Assault Policies Sexually Assault Term Paper

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In most cases thus the violated woman soldier prefers to suffer silently and try to get over it as one of those things that happen in life. There is also the issue of military culture that demands that soldiers suffer in silence and never let their pain and suffering become an object of public pity that prevents from female soldiers from coming out of their closets and reporting the abuses and violations they have been subjected to.

This perhaps is the reason why Pentagon also admitted that almost eighty percent of sexual abuse and rape cases never get reported. (Parker, 2007)

Kaye Whitley, director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said her office had received 2,923 reports of sexual assault across the military in the twelve months ending Sept. 30, 2008. This increase also included a rise in reports of cases from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan which had increased to 165 to 131 of the year before. Though it signified a nine percent increase over the figures of the previous twelve months Whitley still maintained that only a very small percentage of the total cases are actually reported. These disclosures brought about sharp criticism from Congresswoman Jane Harman who declared that these statistics only bolstered the claim of critics that the military is unable or unwilling to properly handle this deep rooted malaise. (Gearan, 2009)

Man Raping Man -- Another Serious Issue in U.S. Military

As if the problem of man raping a woman was not enough, U.S. Military is saddled with the additional problem of tackling same sex rape. Though the U.S. Military never asks any new recruit about their sexual orientation, any military personnel found out to be a gay can still be thrown out of service. During the period 1993 to 2003 more than 1100 U.S. Military personnel have been discharged from service on these grounds even though more than 800 of them were involved in "mission-critical" assignments according to Department of Defense's own admission. In terms of taxpayers' money wasted, it amounted to $200 million down the drain during this ten-year period. In spite of such strictness, however, it is estimated by Department of Defense itself that around sixty five thousand homosexuals are still serving the U.S. Military. (Fitzgerald, 2006)

This has led to the other serious problem in U.S. Military; that of same sex rape. Though it is almost impossible to come out with any authentic data on same sex rape, the conviction in 2007 of Air Force Captain Devery L. Taylor on four counts of forcible sodomy, two counts of kidnapping and one count of unlawful encounter brought the seriousness of the issue to the fore. Though the lawyers representing the Captain tried to portray the case as a conspiracy to throw him out of service and all the personnel involved were acting under pressure of seniors that were inimical to the Captain, the American Military jury ignored such arguments and convicted the captain. (gay-news.com 2007)

Rape Law in U.S. Military

According to Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice there are two elements of rape and they are "(a) That the accused committed an act of sexual intercourse; and (b) That the act of sexual intercourse was done by force and without consent." This law however is not inclusive enough to prevent sexual coercion which commentators have long since believed is rampant in acts of unwilling sexual intercourse that is so prevalent in U.S. Military. Military's definition of rape is almost identical to the common law definition of rape and this precludes the unique culture in the armed forces where subordinates most willingly put their lives on the line at the behest of their superiors. Also, if one considers the age old custom prevalent in military of putting honor of the platoon ahead of self often prevents a victim from resisting any sexual overtures of senior officers. Thus the resistance and unwillingness that happens to be the primary requirement to prove that a rape has indeed taken place often gets dissolved even though the victim is actually unwilling to enter into sexual intercourse. Commentators have described this melting away of the unwillingness due to the peculiar social ambience within the military akin to exertion or force that a rapist might have to exert on his unwilling victim in the civilian society.

Section 120 further does not mention anything about activities by perpetrators that do not fit into the narrow and constrictive definition of coercion. But as any neutral observer will surely admit, misuse of authority or rank to engage in sexual intercourse without any apparent coercion or use of physical force is equally reprehensible and amounts to nothing but rape. However, in cases where blatant coercion or application of physical force is absent such acts are not accepted as rape as per Uniform Code of Military Justice and the perpetrator is dealt with under other sections that prescribe light to negligible punishment.

This lacuna in the Uniform Code of Military Justice is dangerous for the military as it greatly undermines the cohesiveness and camaraderie that is so very necessary for any military to retain its effectiveness and efficiency. Surely no victim would truly and honestly come forward and put her entire abilities at the service of the commander if she has been victimized by that commander and had to surrender to his lust simply because he holds a superior position and has the power to not only destroy her career in the military but also make her the subject of public ridicule and insult. (Pickands, 2004)

Attempts by the U.S. Senate to modify the Rape Law in U.S. Military

Hillary Clinton when she was a Senator from New York had introduced a resolution on September 10th, 2008 that dealt with rape and sexual assaults in U.S. Military. That resolution ((S. Con. Res. 97) attempted to express the concern about the U.S. Senate regarding increasing cases of rape and sexual assault within the famed U.S. Military.

She had stated in that resolution that while incidences of rape and sexual assaults had increased by seventy three percent during the two-year period from 2004 to 2006, the military chain of command took little or no action in more than half of the cases investigated by them citing lack of sufficient evidence and, in instances where they actually took action, it often petered down to mild reprimand or what can be more aptly described as a mild tap on the wrist of the perpetrator. Such a callous attitude on the part of top brass of U.S. Military creates an environment that surely never encourages any female victim to come forward and report such instances of personal violation. While appreciating the fact that the Department of Defense has set up the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office that serves as the single point of accountability in cases of sexual assault, the resolution laments the ground reality that the Office still does not follow up the investigations and prosecutions related to such reported cases of sexual assault.

The resolution exhorted the Secretary of Defense to set up a system whereby incidents of sexual assault are firmly dealt with so that would be rapists and assaulters get a stern message and are genuinely discouraged to even think of perpetrating such a heinous crime. Among several suggestions made in the resolution the most pertinent is that commanders should be held personally responsible for all acts of rape that occur in their command and would have to justify each and every such case if they have been disposed of through non-judicial measures or departmental actions. (Ranjan, 2008)

From what has been discussed above, it is quite obvious that no amount of legislation can actually improve the dismal scenario and any betterment can only happen if the military changes its attitude towards women. Towards that end the following steps might be initiated in the U.S. Military:

Women soldiers should be shown more respect by senior officers as this is bound to have a trickledown effect.

Strictly ban pornography within the armed forces.

Drill instructors must be severely warned about use of sexist language.

Educate male officers that rape is a form of torture and it comes under the category of war crime.

Stop admitting people who have past records of crimes against women and children.

Exemplary punishment should be meted out to all those that have been convicted of crimes against their female comrades.

References

Benedict, Helen (2008). "Why Soldiers Rape." In These Times. Volume: 32. Issue: 9. 28-32.

Burke, Carol (2004). Camp All American, Hanoi Jane and the High And Tight: Gender, Folklore and Changing Military Culture. Los Angeles: Beacon Press.

Fitzgerald, Mary (2006). "U.S. Army: Mission Critical Gays." New Statesman. Volume: 135. Issue: 4807. 16.

gay-news.com. (2007) Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Complicates Military Gay Rape Case. http://www.gay-news.com/article04.php?sid=1823 (accessed August 5, 2010).

Gearan, Anne (2009). "Military rape reports rise, prosecution still…[continue]

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