Activist collecting stories of sexual assault in the military

Activist collecting stories of sexual assault in the military July 14, 2012

On the heels of a massive petition effort, Marine Corps veteran Nicole McCoy is already busy with her next project. She is collecting stories from service members about rape / sexual assault.

Please send in your story to Nicole.

About six months ago, the film The Invisible War was released. It documents this very issue. It won the 2012 Sundance Audience Award.

The Invisible War – Official Trailer

20% of women in the military are raped or sexually assaulted.

8% of sexual assaults are prosecuted by the US Military.

2% of sexual assault prosecutions result in convictions.

Amy Goodman | Democracy Now!

interviews The Invisible War’s film-makers, victims.

This film seeks to change the ‘blind eye’ culture to our military’s massive rape / sexual assault problem. Perhaps the machine has been slow to react, and maybe significant change is in the works. Nicole McCoy is not counting on it, nor is she willing to wait for it. Calls for change should be met with more than just a high-ranking person delivering seemingly empty promises.

In just one week, hundreds of thousands of people have already signed her petition. Sign it if you haven’t already. It demands that the military deal with convicted rapists and other sexual assault predators with a sex offender registry.

It also demands that those convicted also be punished more than just ‘kicked out of the military’. Many offenders are just kicked out, and not placed on any sort of civilian sex offender registry. One of my former peers was arrested for having sex with a 14 year old. He was kicked out of the military. That’s it. No other punishment. The system is broken.

Maybe a sex offender registry is not the only viable approach. Maybe it’s a bit difficult to implement in a way that ethically minimizes the rare false-positive, but I doubt it. Those are valid discussion points, but I really think those issues are either red herrings and/or can be mitigated.

What other suggestions would you give the US Military to reduce the enormous sexual assault problem?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • You’re absolutely right. This is a grave problem service-wide, and its one we have a responsibility to fix. I think part of the problem is the question of gender roles. I was blogging about this last night; so long as we assume that women are somehow less valid serving than men are because they’re not conforming to the gender roles we as a society have decided they should, we’re going to create a cultures that allows us to treat them differently. That’s what feeds into this problem.

    So long as we deny them the right to fight along side men on equal terms, we’re going to relegate them into a role that perpetuates the disgusting perception that women are just “FOB Queens” which helps open the door to sexual assault.

    We can only change that in the military so much, because we need society as a whole to get past it. But we can force the discussion by making this problem a priority.

  • Mark

    Something I have never been clear on… why are military rapists not punished as enemy combatants, given that they have demonstrably acted to harm a US soldier… sometimes in a combat zone?

    I mean, if I took a random soldier, tied them up, and tortured them, I’m the enemy. If I throw a little rape on top of that, though, I’m barely punished?

  • mythbri

    The solution is the same, and is as daunting, as the solution to rape in civilian culture. Change the culture that says that this is acceptable, is no big deal, or even deserved.

    This needs to be addressed by training on every level. For officers and the people under their command. The reporting system needs to be strengthened and uniformly applied. Under-reporting is a symptom of the reality of negative consequences – those need to be minimized at lest, removed completely at best.

    The victims of sexual assault need to know what should already be true – that their fellow service-men and -women have their back. And the people that commit sexual assault need to know that at the very least, their military career is over.

    What’s the possibility of the military and civilian police maintaining shared records?

  • Suido

    Related: Sexual abuse, rape and bullying in the military have been big news in Australia recently.

    The review, sparked by the so-called Skype sex scandal at the Australian Defence Force Academy last year, received “within scope” complaints from 847 people, many containing more than one allegation of assaults between 1951 and 2011. The ”overwhelming majority” of allegations appeared plausible, and many had not been reported before. None of the alleged perpetrators were named in the report.

    Seems to me that this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

  • F

    Oh, thank you. I posted a link to the petition in one of Pharyngula’s TZTs, but I doubt it attracted any notice.