Sexual abuse rife in US military
The military system favours the perpetrator, according to Kira Mountjoy-Pepka of Pack Parachute, a non-profit organisation which assists sexually abused veterans.
‘What we’re seeing now, and what we’ve seen for decades, is when someone is assaulted, the military investigators create false or misleading crime reports. Then the case is dismissed, and the command persecutes the victim for false reporting,’ she says.
The military goes to great lengths to protect the perpetrators, and that deters survivors from reporting. The incidences of sexual trauma in the military are staggering.
The Department of Defence claims to have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual assault in the ranks, but the figures dispute that claim.
The rate of sexual assault on women in the military is twice that of the civilian population, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. While a civilian rape victim is ensured confidential advice from his or her doctors, lawyers and advocates, the only access a military rape survivor has is to a chaplain.
There is a 40% arrest rate for sex crimes among civilians, but only 8% of investigated cases in the United States military lead to prosecution. Nearly 50% of reported cases are dismissed due to the lack of adequate proof, or the death of the victim. Less than 11% of the cases result in a court martial. Often, those prosecuted merely suffer a reduction in rank or pay, and 80% still receive an honourable discharge.
The victim, on the other hand, risks ending his or her career when they file charges. Faced with the threat of possible persecution and losing their jobs and professional credibility, most soldiers elect to remain silent about their sexual assaults. Their silence is generally poorly rewarded, however; records reveal that only about 30% of women who are sexually assaulted in the military are able to maintain their careers.
You can read the full story on Al-Jazeera.