Why would anyone accept a job where being raped by your coworkers is considered an occupational hazard? And worse, do they know they are agreeing to this when they enlist?
As detailed in the film, the military actually attracts sexual predators - and why not? It's the perfect environment for violent people who can perfect their criminal behavior with no fear of being punished. Thus they have the ideal hunting grounds to be serial rapists. There are an estimated two times as many sexual predators per capita within the military versus the civilian population at large.
I didn't glean from the film the percentage of female military personnel who are sexually assaulted: they estimate that only
1 in 5 rapes are reported. My impression based on the
film is that the actual number of total servicewomen who are raped is
astonishingly high. 25%? Higher?? (Probably close to 100% of them are subjected
to sexual harassment.) Rape is a crime of violence; this isn't an issue of
having "women in a men's world." In total numbers - because of being
a huge majority - most of the victims of rape in the military are men, and
their perpetrators are other straight men. Men are significantly less likely
than women to report rape. Leaving us to wonder just how high the overall rape
figures might be.
It leaves one feeling like even the best intentioned military platoon is likely harboring a rapist (at worst) or a harasser (at best). The Invisible War actually inspired Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to change the military rule that dictated that investigating a rape claim was at the sole discretion of the victim's commander (even if the commander was the alleged rapist). Historically, victims have effectively had no access to due process. Or even simple human compassion. The stories the women tell of the glib remarks and callous treatment they are subjected to when trying to seek justice is beyond chilling. Some of the offending officers sound like they would have done quite well in another era, wearing the black uniforms of the Schutzstaffel. I don't say that lightly. I've never had this perspective of the
military before, but what I learned in this
documentary was appalling - in spite of knowing previously about
harassment, rape, and cover-ups! U.S.
Many of these documented women were incredibly passionate about their military careers, and wanted nothing more than to serve their country. They considered the people they served with to be family. Then they were raped by family members. To add insult to injury, they were then betrayed by the family at large when they sought help. Women who have been raped in the military suffer from PTSD at rates much higher than men who have been injured in combat. And yet, there continues to be little or no acknowledgement of what they have suffered, or their need for ongoing care. I guess if rape is accepted as an occupational hazard, you're on your own after the fact. Some female veterans view the military's talking points on rape prevention to be little more than "rape preparation."
Yes, it's that bad. One female soldier tells in the film of reporting her rape to her commanding officer, only to have him laugh in her face. He thought she must have been part of an especially annoying prank because she'd been the THIRD woman THAT WEEK to make such a claim.
The mentality and environment of these self-governing societies favor the perpetrators. The vast majority of the accused suffer no consequences whatsoever - with only a tiny number receiving trivial punishment. Even fewer are ever court-martialed. And of those, few are ever imprisoned or receive dishonorable discharges. No, the men go on to have successful careers, sometimes lasting decades, in which they are free to commit crime after crime against god only knows how many dozens or hundreds of victims. The justice-seeking women, on the other hand, face dishonorable discharge for things like Adultery - even though they were the unmarried victims. Other women, because of physical or psychological problems stemming from their trauma, are forced to quit - thus losing their benefits and careers.
It's truly mind-boggling. And all I could think watching The Invisible War is that our military, so advanced in so many ways, is hiding a deplorable legacy. I personally wish that the
was known to the world for its remarkable
humanitarian priorities rather than as the Police of the World. I personally
wish, as the last global superpower, that our super powers involved instilling
true gender equality, intellectual prowess, creative genius, environmental
innovations... But here we are, represented around the world through our mostly
man-made films, and our hypocritical might-is-right military that does not
mandate fairness, equality, or compassion. Instead, our brave men and women of
the armed forces are subject to archaic ideologies and a commiserate lack of
justice. And for all the good that individual soldiers do, this just isn't
right. United States
It does not make sense to me that when a person enlists in the military they sign off on the promises the rest of us are guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Isn't that like saying that our military personnel are not actually American citizens? Every American soldier deserves to have the rights and protections that the rest of us have. And the rest of us deserve better than to have the military release its practiced rapists into our communities once they leave the service. We may not be the superpower I wish we were, but we're better than this.
Part of why I started Alice In Actionland is I believe that, as a global community, we are only as strong as our weakest link. Thus, the state of women in the world is only as strong as the girl who is denied an education, the girl who suffers genital mutilation because of an ignorant culture, the woman who is killed with acid because she has embarrassed her family. Applied to this situation, the
military is only as strong as the hero who was
abandoned after being raped, and only as just as the professional rapist who
has found safe haven among their ranks. U.S.
It is one thing when we just don't know. But after something is brought to our attention, we are responsible for our new knowledge. The Invisible War asks us to fix a fundamental problem that is, in a way, at the core of our nation's identity. Regardless of what one thinks of the wars our military engages in, we deserve a better military - one where rape is a completely unacceptable occupational hazard.