So finally, sexual assaults within the U.S. military have managed to get a reaction from the Pentagon, a reaction that shows some fury that is. It is a grand opposite of the either ‘look the other way’ or, a ‘pat on the shoulder and move on’ attitude of yore.
The uproar was created mainly by the Defense Department’s revelation that 26,000 military personnel said in survey that they had been the victims of unwanted sexual harassment or conduct just during 2012!
It may even have been swept under the carpet this time over had it not been the president who was questioned on the issue during a press conference in the presence of the visiting South Korean premier. He took the question seriously and said he wouldn’t tolerate it at all.“If it’s happening inside our military, then whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform that they’re wearing,” he said. “And they may consider themselves patriots, but when you engage in this kind of behavior that’s not patriotic — it’s a crime. And we have to do everything we can to root this out.”
His voice rising, he added: “I have no tolerance for this ... I expect consequences. So I don’t want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way. If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable -- prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period. It's not acceptable.”
Indeed after US Air Force lieutenant colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, people have had their threshold for patience really cut short! Krusinski no less than directed the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention branch was himself arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a woman in a Virginia parking lot.
It’s ABOUT TIME we say!
It is not just in recent time, though we cannot overlook that, but sexual assault and harassment has always been a bane of female armed personnel in the US Military.
Here is a first-hand account of a victim!
According to Dora Hernandez, of the U.S. Navy and the Army National Guard, "The worst thing for me is that you don't have to worry about the enemy, you have to worry about your own soldiers."
The assaults and the incidents are indeed shameful, but what is worse is the attitude of the military brass and institutions. It’s almost like women are being punished for infiltrating a male domain. You dared so you shall pay!
Washington Post reported a case in February 2013, of an Air Force general who threw out the sexual-assault conviction of a star fighter pilot saying he had a hard time believing that the defendant, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, could have committed “the egregious crime of sexually assaulting a sleeping woman” since he was “a doting father and husband” who had been selected for promotion.
In 2012, there were 80 reported sexual assaults of both men and women at the three academies which train young people to be officers in the Army, Air Force, and Navy. Note that these were just the reported ones, there are numerous incidences that go un reported.
Even the Pentagon admitted that sexual assaults were enormously underreported. Major General Gary Patton, director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office went as far as saying that only 14 percent of assaults are reported in both the active military and the training academies.
There have been incidents of victims being sexually harassed while going through rape counseling!
What remains to be said? One becomes speechless. The very force that is relied upon to safeguard life and property of people, can hardly be relied upon with our women? Is that something we want to hear and sleep at night with?