U.S. military veterans are twice as likely to be jailed for sexual assault than non-veterans. Apparently, some people are confused as to why this may be.
Lucinda Marshall explains it really well in her piece at Alternet: Women have always been abused in war time, and the military promotes a form of masculinity that is based on aggression. It’s a soldier’s job to be violent. Women are imaged as not-quite-human, and as objects to “take” from your enemy.
Sexual violence has been a de facto weapon of war since the beginning of the patriarchal age. Raping and assaulting women is seen as a way to attack the honor of the enemy, and women have always been the spoils of war. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations both during hostilities and after the conflict ends and soldiers go home.
Examples are not hard to find. Before and during WWII, the Japanese enslaved as many as 200,000 “comfort” women, and after the defeat of the Japanese, the United States continued to use tens of thousands of Japanese women as sex slaves. During the 1990s more than 5,000 women were trafficked into South Korea primarily to work as “entertainers” near U.S. military bases. Hundreds of thousands of women have been raped, frequently for the purpose of ethnic cleansing in countries such as Bosnia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In this country, sexual abuse within the military is often ignored. None of the officers implicated in the Tailhook that involved the sexual harassment of women were ever prosecuted. Sexual abuse problems at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs have only been partially addressed, and the murders of military wives at Ft. Bragg, N.C., and Ft. Campbell, Ky., provide shocking examples of the problems of intimate partner abuse within military families.
A 2003 study reported that 30 percent of female U.S. veterans reported being the victim of rape or attempted rape during their military service. Last year there were 2,374 reports of sexual assault by service members. Despite this, the military quit providing emergency contraception as part of its medical formulary in 2002 (even while officially recognizing its importance), and a recent congressional attempt to reinstate it was scuttled due to lack of support (ironically, the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra is included in the formulary).
As the above illustrates, this latest statistic regarding sexual assaults by military veterans is clearly no accident. It a systemic part of a military culture that not only tolerates but frequently encourages the hatred and belittling of women.
- U.S. Marine Guilty of Raping Woman in the Phillipines by Jill December 4, 2006
- Homelessness Increases Among Female Veterans by Cara February 4, 2009
- New Statistics on Military Rape and Reporting by Cara March 18, 2009
- Class Action Against U.S. Military On Behalf Of Sexual Assault Survivors by Jaclyn July 26, 2010
- Victims’ Advocates “Schooled in Man-Hating” by Jill December 15, 2005