Friday, March 25, 2005

Air Force refuses to prosecute sexual harassment

As it turns out, this is my first post here. I don't know if it's against the rules, but I've cross-posted this because it makes me so f---ing angry!

Women are on the front lines with the men. Women are dying in combat with the men. Women are placing their duty to their country over their duty to their families, as are the men.

And yet the Air Force continues to ignore the sexual assault happening within their own ranks.

In a letter released Thursday by Acting Secretary of the Air Force Peter Teets to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the Air Force revealed that it will not take administrative action against anyone as regards confirmed and repeated sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, RAW STORY has learned.

"The Acting Secretary of the Air Force has reviewed the Department of Defense Inspector General's (DoD/IG's) report and the Fowler report on sexual assault problems at the AF Academy," Teets wrote. "After considering all the facts and weighing all the interests at stake, the Acting Secretary found that no administrative action is warranted against those officers identified in those reports as bearing some responsibility for Academy's sexual assault problems."

"The Acting Secretary gave significant weight to their uniformly excellent and lengthy service and to the fact they were not intentionally or willfully derelict in their duties," Teets added. "He also found that any mistakes or misjudgments some of them may have made are mitigated by the complexity of the issues faced, the necessity of policy tradeoffs and compromises, and the difficulty of measuring program effectiveness."

Note: "confirmed and repeated sexual assault" -- the matters of fact are not in question. Some men committed repeated sexual assults, and now are going to receive no administrative action. So....go ahead and rape and harass women as long as you fulfill your duties. Physical assault (sexual or otherwise) is not important enough in the face of "policy tradeoffs."

"What the Pentagon clearly doesn't want to discuss, and what all Americans should know, is that women are being sexually assaulted on an ongoing basis in the military and at our nation's military academies by their colleagues," Slaughter continued. "Is this the best we can do for young Americans who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom?"

Leniency towards sexual assault in the military has long been viewed as standard practice.

A November 2003 article in The Denver Post noted that twice as many accused Army sex offenders were doled out administrative punishment as were court-martialed.

"In the civilian world, four of every five people arrested for rape are prosecuted," the Post noted. "Nearly 5,000 accused sex offenders in the military, including rapists, have avoided prosecution, and the possibility of prison time, since 1992, according to Army records."

Women can't win. If we don't step up to fight, then we don't deserve equality. So we step up to fight, without complaint, and we don't deserve equal protection under the law -- nor, apparently, any sort of concept of human dignity or honor.

Imagine what the military's response would be if it were men being sexually assaulted by other men. "Oh, that would be totally different! That's why we cannot have gays in the military!" they say.

So is this non-response to sexual misconduct and physical assault within their own institutions a passive-aggressive way to drive women out of the military?

Of course, when you have ludicrous sites like this one, that says:

Jessica Lynch was the victim of feminist zealots who have been pushing for deployment of women in dangerous combat areas

and has a long list of articles that warn of the dangers of "colocation," complain that women in the ranks are hurting promotion chances for men, women are making "boot camp into summer camp," women in the military are against Christian teachings, women who choose motherhood over military have greater get the idea -- with sites like that, and people believing that tripe, it's clearly a lonely uphill battle for any woman who chooses to serve her country without employing her womb.

You get a different perspective, however, from The Minerva Center, whose "Nonprofit Educational Foundation Supporting Study of Women in War & Women and the Military" actually deigns to treat the subject of women in the military without Christian and male chauvinist dogma. In their FAQ, they tell of Molly Pitcher:

Molly Pitcher is the name of a legendary figure of the American Revolution. She is associated with the Battle of Monmouth and since 1876 has been identified with a woman veteran of the war, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, who lived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. As part of the centenary events of that year, an unmarked grave believed to be hers was opened and the remains were reburied with honors under a plaque declaring her to have been the real embodiment of the famous Molly Pitcher.

The central theme of the Molly Pitcher story is of a woman whose husband was wounded or killed while serving at an artillery piece at the Battle of Monmouth. She took his place to the admiration of the other soldiers who admired her courage and devotion to her husband....

The real woman, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley was awarded a pension by the State of Pennsylvania in1822 "for services rendered" during the war -- this was more than the usual widow's pension which was awarded to soldiers' wives who marched with the army. So one assumes she did something special. But when she died there was no mention of a cannon or the Battle of Monmouth in her obituary. Historical sources do confirm that at least two women fought in the Battle of Monmouth -- one was at an artillery position and the other was in the infantry line. There is no evidence linking either of them to McCauley.

There is another woman veteran of the Revolution who received a pension from the Continental Congress for serving at an artillery piece during the Battle of Fort Washington. Her name was Margaret Corbin, and she is now buried at West Point. Some people believe she should be considered the "real" Molly Pitcher, but few people knew about her until long after the Molly Pitcher story was known to every school child, so she cannot have been its inspiration.

And yet today, more than 200 years after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, women are still harrassed, raped, assaulted by their own comrades -- with tacit sanction by the military. Apparently Duty, Honor, Country has no room for decency, responsibility or a code of conduct that doesn't wink and say, "Boys will be boys."

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