February 2011

Rapes Are Again Reported in Eastern Congo


Jeffrey Gettelman
The New York Times
February 25, 2011

More than 40 people, including men, women and children, have been raped in the past two weeks in eastern Congo in roughly the same area as a series of rapes earlier this year, United Nations officials said on Friday.

On two separate occasions, the victims were coming back from the market in large groups when they were attacked, aid workers said, and the most likely culprits were rebel forces hiding out in the thickly forested hills of the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To read the full story in the New York Times, click here.


Shattering Voices From The Military Rape Lawsuit, Verbatim


Irin Carmon
February 22, 2011

Last week, a group of women and men sued Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, for creating a culture that enabled and protected their rapists. The words in this video are taken directly from their complaint.

The full legal complaint is searing — and depressingly repetitive. This video seeks to distill their accounts of a culture that, these women and men say, not only allowed their assaults but bullied them when they tried to report and, in many cases, left their assailants free and even thriving. As demoralizing as it can be to contemplate such concentrated violence and misogyny, we’re hearing these stories because these survivors refused to go away quietly, and are bravely fighting back.

Video by Matt Toder, Jessica Coen, and Irin Carmon. Song: “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” by Paul Reece.

To view this on the Jezebel site, click here.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against the Pentagon


Ann Wright
February 20, 2011

DOD Fails to Protect Service Members from Rape in the Military

On February 15, 2011, the Pentagon was slammed with a class action lawsuit filed by 15 women and two men who are victims and survivors of rape in the military. Filed in the Eastern District of Northern Virginia by Attorney Susan Burke, the lawsuit contends that Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, as Secretaries of the Department of Defense, “failed to investigate rapes and sexual assaults, failed to prosecute perpetrators, failed to provide an adequate judicial system as required by the Uniform Military Justice Act and failed to abide by Congressional deadlines to implement Congressionally-ordered institutional reforms to stop rapes and other sexual assaults.

To read Colonel Wright’s full article at OpEdNews.com, click here.

Thanks to the very generous people at Ms. Magazine, usmvaw.com is now able to provide Natalie Wilson’s article, Culture of Rape.

The article provides an overview of the military culture addressed in the landmark Military Rape and Sexual Assault Class Action Lawsuit filed February 15, 2011.


Culture of Rape

Linda Franklin, an active duty U.S. Marine sergeant, was beaten and strangled in 2007 by her then-partner, a staff sergeant. She notified the military brass about the crime, following procedures to the letter, trusting that he would be punished. Instead, a year later she found herself reporting to her attacker; he had been promoted to her ranking officer. Franklin—not her real name—was ultimately labeled a “domestic abuser” herself by a committee review board because a police report misinterpreted a witness’s testimony.

To read the full article on usmvaw.com click here.

To read the article at the Ms. site, click here.

The U.S. Military’s ‘Rape Epidemic’


Best of U.S. Opinion Pieces
The Week
February 17, 2011

This week, 17 veterans and active-duty service members filed a landmark lawsuit accusing the Pentagon of looking the other way despite frequent reports of rape and other abuse against women in the armed forces. The suit singles out Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, accusing them of running an institution in which violence against women is tolerated. A Pentagon spokesman said “sexual assault is a wider societal problem” and the military is trying to prevent it, just as civilian leaders are. What might the lawsuit accomplish?

Best U.S. Opinion in The Week on this subject from:
Gather, Feministing, New Civil Rights Movement

To read the full piece at The Week, click here.

Commander: Army Investigating Assault Complaints


Alan Scher Zagier
Associated Press
February 16, 2011

The Army is aggressively investigating sexual assault complaints, the commanding general at Fort Leonard Wood said Wednesday — a day after more than a dozen U.S. veterans filed a lawsuit accusing the Pentagon of failing to take their complaints of sexual abuse by older soldiers seriously.

To read the full AP story on Yahoo! News, Click here.

Additional coverage of media reports since the filing of the Military Rape and Sexual Assault Class Action Lawsuit on February 15, 2011.


The Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) has collected news reports from around the country and the world. You can see the latest coverage and information about the lawsuit at their web site, here.


The Young Turks
February 15, 2011

Lawsuit Says Military Is Rife With Sexual Abuse The New York Times, February 15, 2011

Military Accused of Turning Blind Eye on Rape Victims NBC San Diego, February 15, 2011

Lawsuit Says Military Tolerates Rape, Assault Marine Corps Times, February 15, 2011

Thanks to the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) we have a link to the full text of the lawsuit filed on February 15, 2011.

Military Rape and Sexual Assault Class Action Lawsuit

SWAN has started a petition drive to end rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military. You can read the petition here.

Media Reports:
Military Rape and Sexual Assault Class Action Lawsuit

We will be posting media reports responding to the class action suit as they become available.

The Today Show
February 15, 2011

Veterans Say Rape Cases Mishandled APNewsBreak, February 15, 2011

Lawsuit Claims Pentagon Turned Blind Eye To Military Rape Victims Ronald S. Martin Blog, February 15, 2011

Military Rape Cases Mishandled, Veterans Say CBS News, February 15, 2011

Gates, Rumsfeld Sued Over U.S. Military’s Rape Epidemic   The Daily Beast, February 15, 2011

U.S. Veterans Sue Pentagon ‘After They Were Raped and Sexually Abused by Comrades’   The Daily Mail, February 15, 2011

Veterans Say Pentagon Mishandled Rape Cases Salon.com, February 15, 2011

The Alyona Show
February 15, 2011
SWAN, ACLU and Yale University

US Veterans say Military Fails in Rape Claim Inquiries BBC News, February 15, 2011

Military Rape and Sexual Assault
Class Action Lawsuit
Press Conference
February 15, 2011
at the National Press Club

On Tuesday, February 15, 2011, a group of U.S. military veterans who allege that they were raped or sexually assaulted during their international and domestic military service will discuss at the National Press Club at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, their forthcoming federal-court litigation, which will have been filed earlier on February 15, 2011.

Scheduled to speak at the news conference in the National Press Club Murrow Room are:

• Several of the veteran plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

• Keith Rohman, president, Public Interest Investigations, Inc. (PII), Los Angeles, Calif.

• Eleanor Smeal, president, Feminist Majority Foundation, Washington, D.C.

• Anuradha Bhagwati, executive director, Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), New York, N.Y.

• A representative of the veterans’ legal team.

Contact: Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, (281) 703-6000, info@powersmediaworks.com

To get some additional insight about why this lawsuit is necessary, read this.

Media reports and articles on this issue can be viewed at the links below:

Lawsuit to Claim Vets Were Sexually Assaulted  Navy Times, February 11, 2011

Congress Told That DOD Data on Sexual Assault and Rape in Military Is ‘Lacking in Accuracy, Reliability and Validity’   MSTNEWS,   February 15, 2010

National Press Club Schedule and Information

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