In this post, usmvaw offers information about some significant current events that address the ongoing problems of sexual harrassment, assault, and rape of women and men in the military.

The class-action lawsuit filed in February of this year by seventeen U.S. veterans against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor Donald Rumsfield has been amended.

The lawsuit now lists twenty-eight plaintiffs.

The amended version is available in PDF format at the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) web site. To read it, click here.

On November 17th, the Military Rape Crisis Center will be joining Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-12) at the National Press Club in Washington DC for a press conference regarding Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Military.

Congresswoman Speier will announce legislation to address the systematic problem of sexual assault and harassment among our men and women in the military.

If you would like to attend this event, please RSVP to Congresswoman Speier’s office at 202.225.3531.

If you are an MST survivor and plan on attending, please also email panayiota@stopmilitaryrape.org

Military Rape and Sexual Assault Class Action Lawsuit

 

Jaclyn Ries
usmvaw.com

On February 15, 2011, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in which Susan L. Burke represented seventeen individuals as they sought justice against former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The lawsuit states that the defendants, Rumsfeld and Gates failed to investigate the plaintiffs instances of rape and sexual assault, failed to prosecute perpetrators, failed to provide an adequate justice system as required by Uniform Military Justice Act, and failed to abide by Congressional deadlines to implement reforms to stop rapes and other sexual assaults. The plaintiffs claim that “they have been directly and seriously injured by Defendants actions and omissions,” and seek justice and compensation.

This lawsuit provides vivid stories and details about how each individual dealt with military command, and how they failed to properly respond and handle the situation after the individuals reported their sexual assaults. Several times, command failed to keep the reports confidential and their assailants learned of the instance being reported, furthering the threats and escalating the violence. However, once the allegations were reported by an individual to command, often command would threaten them not to discuss the situation or how it was handled with anyone else. If they did, their career would be at risk.

Other times command would find a way to put the blame on the individual who reported it. For example individuals were accused of lying if their assailant denied the allegations and, they could be forced to sign forms stating that the sex was consensual when in fact it wasn’t, which for males has lead to them being dishonorably discharged. Other times the military would blame it on alcohol, or as in the case of Stephanie Schroeder, would tell individuals, “don’t come to me because you had sex and changed your mind.” Often times after the sexual assault was reported, assailants would be put in charge of the victims, assailants would be allowed to remain on active duty with minimal punishments for their actions, and command would fail to investigate, or even drop the cases.

For more information or to read the lawsuit text and the stories of the seventeen individuals, visit the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) website here.

If you are interested in contacting Burke PLLC about potentially participating in this lawsuit, click here.

Helen Benedict on the Private Wars of Military Women

 

“Award winning author and journalist, Helen Benedict, who testified twice before Congress regarding the issues of women in the military, is interviewed by Cindy Piester of Pulse TV and Maverick Media. Topics include, The Lonely Soldier, military sexual trauma, rape, and the new class action law suit against the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, and Robert Gates.”

 

 

Learn more about Maverick Media at the links below:

Maverick Media on Vimeo           Maverick Media Blog

Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces

 

Representative Niki Tsongas (D.- Mass.)
The Boston Globe
February 27, 2011

More than a dozen veterans who were victims of sexual assault while serving in the US military, including two from Massachusetts, recently filed suit in federal court alleging that the Pentagon did not take adequate steps to protect them. Their complaint is reflective of the deep frustration and sense of betrayal that many victims feel with our military leadership, which seems to be unwilling to forcefully confront the issue of sexual assault within the ranks and which has not provided sufficient resources, rights, and legal protections to victims.

Last year, there were 3,230 reported sexual assaults against members of our armed forces. However, the Pentagon estimates that as few as 10 percent of such assaults are actually reported.

To read this full article at The Boston Globe, 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.

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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.

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