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Thursday, March 8

Mothers, Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Soldiers

Lower ranking females soldiers in Iraq have to worry about more than insurgents. They have to worry about being raped by the men on their side. "The danger of rape by other soldiers is so widely recognized in Iraq that their officers routinely told them not to go to the latrines or showers without another woman for protection," says Helen Benedict, who is writing a book on the female veterans of the war on Iraq, in a Salon article, The private war of women soldiers

Sexual assault is so bad in the military, 3 women died from dehydration in Iraq for refusing to drink liquids late in the day for fear of being assaulted by male American soldiers on their way to the latrine. When the DOD attempted to do something about it, they just warned women on how to avoid being assaulted while trying to do their jobs rather than teaching men to not rape. It really makes you wonder just what kind of men join the military and it really makes you wonder if the military is providing substitutes for the lack of prostitutes in Iraq by sending women into combat.

"Spranger and several other women told me the military climate is so severe on whistle-blowers that even they regarded the women who reported rape as incapable traitors. You have to handle it on your own and shut up, is how they saw it. Only on their return home, with time and distance, did they become outraged at how much sexual persecution of women goes on."

Having the courage to report a rape is difficult enough for civilians, where unsympathetic police, victim-blaming myths, and simple fear prevent 59 percent of rapes from being reported, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice. But within the military, reporting is even more risky...

Some commanders not only turn a blind eye to assault and harassment but engage in it themselves, a phenomenon known in the military as "command rape." Because the military is hierarchical, and because soldiers are trained to obey and never question their superiors, men of rank can assault their juniors with impunity. In most cases, women soldiers are the juniors, 18 to 20 year old, and are new to the military and war, thus vulnerable to bullying and exploitation.

At the moment, the most shocking case of military sexual assault is that of Army Spc. Suzanne Swift, 21, who served in Iraq in 2004. Swift was coerced into sex by one commanding officer, which is legally defined as rape by the military, and harassed by two others before she finally broke rank and told. As a result, the other soldiers treated her like a traitor for months.

Unable to face returning to the assailant, she went AWOL during a leave at home, and was arrested and put in jail for desertion. At first the Army offered her a deal: It would reduce her punishment if Swift would sign a statement saying that she had never been raped. She refused, saying she wouldn't let the Army force her to lie.

The Army court-martialed Swift, and stripped her of her rank. She spent December in prison and was then sent to Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, far away from her family. She must stay in the Army for two more years, and may face redeployment. The men who assaulted her received nothing but reprimanding letters.
Mothers, Don't Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Soldiers

Now for the really shocking part of this story. Read the comments at Salon.

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