The U.S. military has a sexual assault problem. It is huge, and grotesque, and it has been going on for decades. It effects both women and men. Every time a scandal erupts that cannot be swept under the rug, it is addressed with promises of reform by military brass. Nothing ever comes of it.
Sexual violence is harmful enough, of course. But what comes after that is often worse: rape victims have nowhere to turn for help or justice outside of the chain of command — which often includes the rapist himself and those who will rally to protect him. A miniscule fraction of perpetrators are ever prosecuted, and those who are often receive little more than a slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, the backlash against a victim for reporting is swift and severe, and often career killing. Despite this ugliness, the number of servicemember reports of sexual assault rose from 19,000 to 26,000 between 2011 and 2012, according to a Pentagon report released last month. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend you watch The Invisible War to get a better understanding of the horrifying scope and nature of these issues.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently introduced a bill that would move investigations and prosecutions for such crimes outside of the chain of command, as many U.S. allies have already done. Sen. Gillibrand cited evidence from Israel that showed that after a series of high-profile prosecutions and major system changes five years ago, reporting rates increased by 80%. Via email, she noted that on June 4:
the Senate Armed Services Committee held its first full hearing on sexual assault in the military in a decade. Of the twenty witnesses, only two were there as victim advocates. The other 18 were representing the top ranks of the military and uniformly opposed our efforts to reform the military justice system.
I think we could all see where this was heading.
On Thursday, the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin (D-oucheweaseal) killed Gillibrand’s bill in favor of the status quo, with some cosmetic changes and a heaping helping of Republican votes.
When it comes to investigating and prosecuting sex crimes, Sen. Gillibrand said, “it’s not that the decision is wrong, it’s the decider.”
Also on Thursday, Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison on Thursday announced that both military and civilian police would be investigating allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Australian Army members (including officers). Then he made this video:
Lieutenant General David Morrison could teach a thing or two to the U.S. military brass and their sniveling lackies in the U.S. Senate. Say, is there any chance Australia could invade our country and straighten these assholes out? Pretty please?
The Palace salutes Lieutenant General David Morrison. The cocktails are on us, Lieutenant.