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Invisible War 2Promotional poster for the 2012 film, The Invisible War, which drew attention to the issue of sexual assault in the U.S. military. Source: Wikipedia

Report on Issues of Sexual Assault on Women in the U.S. Military, and the Role of the U.S. Military Justice System

By Ena Keco, Student Writer for Safeworld

The U.S. military system has sparked areas of concern for quite some time now. The issue: the widespread military sexual abuse suffered by women (and men), serving their country. The legal safeguards put in place in the 1950’s have consistently failed, and continue to do so, on a systematic basis.

In the light of the above mentioned, this article will focus on the changing female role within the (U.S.) military, the widespread sexual abuse stemming from it, and ultimately – how the U.S. military justice system confronts, and deals with these issues (or not).

The Modern U.S. Military

The term military is used to describe a combined fighting force encompassing all U.S. military branches, operating in over 100 countries, which are: the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard (controlled by the Department of Homeland security), National Guard – both Army and Air, and Reserve units from all branches.

Military service members then, fall into three sub-categories: full-time soldiers and sailors in active duty stationed at military bases at home and overseas – or deployed on operations overseas; reserve, and guard forces usually performing civilian jobs, but which also can be called to full-time military duty; and former members of the military, known as veterans.

Why Men Join the Military

The top three male reasons for joining the U.S. military remain: patriotism (enlistment figures in the U.S. boomed after 9/11), jobs in an unstable economy hence, monetary stability, and family tradition.

The monetary compensation is that good that the offers are rather appealing, with upfront bonuses starting at $14,000; this number can increase to ‘just’ $30,000 – depending on the complexity of the role.

Free education is another big reason for joining, together with care options, pension plans, free medical and dental care.

Why Women Join the Military

The reasons for female enlistment are almost identical to those of male enlistment. However, women have expressed their need to prove that they were, in addition, worthy of serving on a more physical, emotional and social level, and that they can adequately fight, lead, and defend their country.

Women began to join the army in order to prove that they can be on equal footing to men. A lot of female soldiers have expressed that they find it very rewarding serving next to men, being accepted into ‘the brotherhood’ – formerly, a men-only concept.

However, if and when a woman puts her career before her role as mother and caretaker, she is automatically stigmatised. A card, men are not usually dealt, and instead are praised for their personal sacrifices to corporate, public, and private services.

Because in today’s economy ‘leaving to spend time with one’s family’ is a euphemism for being fired; barriers and flaws within the current system exist more pervasively for women than men. Nevertheless, dual incomes are more indispensable than ever before.

It needs to be stated that women are contributors within the military system, but are also absolutely marginalized by that system because it is male-dominated and overly disproportionate and therefore, susceptible to victimisation and (sexist) discrimination, fostering predation by turning women into easier, and thus, weaker targets.

Women in the U.S. Military

More women have served in the post 9/11 era than in any single previous conflict. Worth noting is that in the U.S. military no-wage gap exists so pay is based on time in grade and service. No negotiation for a raise is necessary, technically providing more wage equality between both genders, whilst at the same time, starkly prohibiting women reaching top positions.

The fall of 2016 will see the U.S. military remove some gender-based barriers making it possible for women to move into front line combat (women currently cannot be assigned infantry, artillery as well as tank jobs; the U.S. Army alone excludes women from 25% of active duty roles). Whilst for a lot of women serving, this will be regarded as a career-enhancing element – not to mention the gender equality boost, some have raised areas for medical concern.

U.S. Marine Captain Katie Petronio, an engineer officer, has voiced these medical concerns, stating that the physical toll that front line infantry combat had on her resulted in a spinal injury leading to infertility, caused by chemical and physical changes endured during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sovereign & Military Immunity

The institution of the military cannot fully be dissected without mentioning the concept of ‘Sovereign Immunity.’ Introduced by English common law, it means ‘the king can do no wrong’, which derives from the medieval notion: ‘because he is king, he rules by divine right.’

The United States Supreme Court extended this meaning in the famous case of Feres v. United States [1950], establishing that under sovereign immunity, a private citizen cannot sue the U.S. government (under federal tort claims) without its consent or better yet – without its own permission (or admission, and who’s silly enough to admit?!); so in the words of Justice Jackson:

‘We know of no American law which ever has permitted a soldier to recover for negligence, against either his superior officers or the government he is serving’.

What this is effectively saying is that service members are prohibited from suing and collecting damages from the United States government – in this case, the Defence Department, which is ‘the National Military Establishment’, for personal injuries (i.e. sexual assault), and wrongful death, experienced in the performance of active military duty resulting from the negligence of other military personnel.

Sovereign immunity extends to over 20 countries worldwide. The concept is also widely available under International law, with possible results of death, followed by injury and military sexual trauma, without any effective legal redress.

So the argument here is that the military is essentially and by necessity, a specialized society with its own jurisprudence, separate, and apart from civil society, under which, the military has by ‘necessity’, developed laws (of obedience), traditions, and disciplines of its own during its long history.  

Whilst in developed countries the concept of the rule of law exists, it fails by default, if the U.S. military enjoys immunity from it by allowing errors of maladministration, injustice or corruption to exist, without any sanctions for non-compliance.

Liberty considers that sovereignty must be qualified by the responsibility to protect, account for wrongdoings and uphold the rule of law.

How then does the U.S. military protect their servicemen?

In effect, the military deprives victims of their legal rights of procedural due process, equal protection, and their first amendment rights (under the Feres Doctrine), which stand for the protection of the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression – ‘military expression’ being strongly regulated and a niche area of military law in itself, free from government interference.

Military Sexual Trauma

Military sexual trauma encompasses everything from sexual harassment to rape, and is now the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder among female service members.

The U.S. Department of Defence categorizes military sexual trauma in five categories of sex crimes: ‘forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact’, and ‘abusive sexual contact.' And with a female soldier today being 180 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed by an enemy, stated by U.S. California Representative Jane Harmon, March 8, 2010, and Representative Loretta Sanchez, April 2013.

The U.S. legal definition of rape is:

‘The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.’

It is ultimately an act of aggression and power over another’s physical integrity and dignity.  

The film ‘The Invisible War’, an Oscar-nominated documentary on sexual assault in the military, estimates that at least 500,000 women have been sexually assaulted in the U.S. military since being allowed to enter the armed forces in the 1940s.

Official U.S. Department of Defence figures reveal, that over 3,000 reported sexual assault cases in 2010 alone, estimates that only 20% of these reported incidents have gone to trial, and only 10% lead to conviction. A report commissioned by then-Defence Secretary Leon Panetta put the actual annual number at 19,000 or more, amounting to 1 in 20 women.

So what does this say?

Well, it speaks volumes on the attempt to cover up female sexual assault in the U.S. military. If this is not enough: the Pentagon estimates that the numbers for female sexual assault cases have further risen by 35% since 2010, from 19,300 service members believed to be victims that year to 26,000 in 2012.

It has to be stated that military sexual trauma also affects men, with numbers on the high rise since the abolishment of former President Clinton’s 1994 ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, which prohibited serving if one was homosexual, and banned servicemen openly admitting to being homosexual – with possible consequences of discharge.

‘I think it is important to recognize that military sexual trauma is not limited to women, and in fact when it comes to the numbers because of the proportion of men, in much larger numbers than women, actually the numbers are even greater.’

Brigadier General Loree Sutton

 

‘You are all familiar with the astonishing statistics. The DoD estimates that approximately 19,000 service members every year—over 50 per day—are raped, sexually assaulted or harassed. Soldiers are more likely to be sexually assaulted by their own comrades than to be killed or wounded by hostile forces.

Yet, less than 20% of those victims ever report the crimes committed against them. Less than 10% of the criminal offenders ever face justice. Therefore, victims do not believe they will get justice, and criminals do not believe they will be punished. The numbers are staggering and they are not in dispute. They have been confirmed by countless surveys, case studies, medical, police and judicial statistics, and by your own leaders in testimony before the military oversight committees of Congress.

These numbers suggest that we are not taking care of soldiers and we in Congress believe that change is urgent and essential.’

Representative Loretta Sanchez, 41st Hodson Lecture, April 30, 2013

 

‘The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this, if we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonourably discharged. Period.’

Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, May 7, 2013

 

Yet, sexual assault figures (for both genders); still remain on the rise…

Why Sex Crimes Are So Rarely Reported

U.S. Department of Defence (DoD), figures reveal that 80% of female sexual assault survivors do not report cases at all; 92% of reported assault cases never even come before a military court.

First respondents also (and somehow), fail to collect forensic evidence of an assault taking place within the required, guideline-stipulated 72-hour deadline, and more often than not, the victim’s superior/commander decides against proceeding to the court martial – this is precisely where the problem lies.

In 2013, two thirds of all reported cases were either instantly dismissed as ‘unfounded’ - meaning allegations against the alleged offender did not occur nor were attempted; these cases are then divided into two categories:

False cases’ – meaning the offense was neither committed nor attempted, and ‘baseless cases’ – meaning that the offense did not meet at least one of the required elements to constitute an offense, or was incorrectly reported as a sexual offense.

These cases are resolved by the perpetrator having to undergo extra duties – the equivalent to having to fulfil community hours, having their salaries reduced, or opting for resignation.

Additionally, victims are usually of low rank, very young, intimidated, and do not want to be labelled as ‘trouble-makers’, with common intimidation in the chain of command.

A very bleak element is that often the person the victims have to report to is the perpetrator himself. ‘How am I supposed to go about reporting something when the person I'm supposed to report to is the person who raped me?’, said a trainee assaulted by instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio between 2009 and 2012.

When her perpetrator was questioned by a military court earlier this year on charges of forcible sodomy and sexual misconduct, on why he did what he did, he responded by saying: ‘I'm a general. I'll do whatever the f--- I want.’

So if the person the victims have to report to is the perpetrator himself, then this would be the equivalent of asking the perpetrator to prosecute themselves or a close friend.

Throw in the fact that if a woman files any claims for abuse she risks losing her rate, rank, and school, and why do that?

Without accountability of perpetrators, without the organisation itself being linked to perpetrators, there is simply no way to assure impartiality because conflicting interests and loyalties will always prevail.

Without any effective instilment of some sort of neutral, unbiased and independent elements, the future of the military justice system will suffer public confidence much more so than it ever has.

Another reason echoed by Lisa Schenk, an American attorney (and judge on the U.S. Military Commission), as well as an academic, is that sexual assault offenses are viewed as undermining

‘the core values of the military services and degrading mission readiness and effective and efficient disposition of the cases is essential to the maintenance of good order and discipline in the armed forces, consequently contributing to national security of the United States’.

But wouldn’t that also mean that ‘by degrading mission readiness’, servicemen who go on to sexually assault their victims, violate the code of ‘brotherhood’?

That probably the molested women looked at those men like brothers, akin to what happens in a family with incest, because military squads function as a cohesive unit, as ‘brothers and sisters’ equating a family unit?

In the words of Brigadier General Lorree Sutton:

‘When that bond of trust is violated, the wound penetrates to the very most inner part of one’s soul… one’s psyche.’

 

The Invisible War

The documentary ‘The Invisible War’ portrays America’s rising number of military sexual assault cases, covered up by the military.

With the most notorious cover up to date, being the 1991, Las Vegas ‘Tailhook scandal’, where more than 100 U.S. Navy and United States Marine Corps aviation officers were suspected to have sexually assaulted at least 83 women and seven men. Nicknamed the ‘gauntlet’, and set up for the specific purpose of targeting and sexually molesting women.

Or the 2012, San Antonio ‘Lackland investigations’, where multiple male officers sexual assaulted more than 30 female recruits.

Or the 2003, Colorado US Air Force Academy rape allegations and charges, ignored by the academy for years.

Or the1996, Maryland - Aberdeen scandal, in which, similarly, military servicemen raped female recruits.

The documentary paints a very dark picture of the prevailing existence of the commonness of military rape by those in authority, depicting the reality of making it as hard, painful, and complicated for women to report incidents. And with victims often being charged with offenses, whilst perpetrators not investigated at all.

It opens with each woman detailing specific reasons for enlisting. More often these reasons morph into respect, passion, devotion, and idealism for the institution.

However, the sheer realism at the end is the fact that those women have been left with physical and severe lifelong, emotional scars – with the majority of women having contemplated suicide and consequently, been let down by the institution they placed their trust in, causing injustice for those who have made a sacrifice to serve their nation.

‘The military hides behind this notion that it is really, really hard, almost impossible to prosecute rape. But when you look at prosecution rates in the 2010 Department of Defence reports, you begin with 2,410 unrestricted reports and 748 restricted. What this means is they’ve already funnelled 748 sexual assault victims into a system that has absolutely no adjudication whatsoever.

Then you take the 2410 that have been reported; of those they have identified 3,223 perpetrators. Now what happens once you send a perpetrator over to command? Well, the command has just completely unfettered discretion to do whatever it is they want.

And what is it that they do? First off, they drop 910 of them, they just don’t do anything.

Then of the 1,025 that they actually take some action, do they court martial them? No. Only half of them, 529, actually got court martialed. The rest, 256 were subjected to article 15 punishments, 109 to administrative discharges, and 131 to quote other adverse administrative actions, whatever the heck that means.

And then of the convictions where they actually get jail time, when you work your way all the way through the numbers, what you’re looking at, is that out of 3,223 perpetrators, only 175 end up doing any jail time whatsoever.’

Susan L. Burke, U.S. Litigator

This is a dire message to all service women, men, perpetrators and the public at large speaking volumes, and suggesting that military sexual assault is perhaps not important enough to be taken seriously, or that the U.S. military justice system is absolutely flawed when it comes to adequately dealing with rape cases.

On How Men View Women in the U.S. Military

‘It’s ludicrous, it’s 2011 and we have posters that say wait until she’s sober, I mean it’s remarkable that that’s allowed to pass in today’s military.’

Anu Bhagwati,Executive Director of the Service Women’s Network Organisation, advocating on behalf of Servicewomen & Women Veterans

Women Reflecting on the U.S. Military

‘You can’t ask women to serve and then say oh by the way, if we get into one of those horrendous situations, we won’t be there to back you up.'

Rep. Chellie Pingree,Democratic Member of the United States House of Representatives

 

How Sexual Assault Incidents Happened

‘He said he was going to the bathroom and he came into my room and that’s when he raped me.’

Jessica Hinves, U.S. Air Force

 

‘They made it very, very clear that if I said anything, they were going to kill me. You know, and then of course, I didn’t have anyone to go talk to because the people who were perpetrating me were the police.’

Trina McDonald, U.S. Navy

 

‘He put his locked and loaded 45 at the base of my skull, and gagged the bolt so I knew that it was a round chambered.’

Lee Le Teff, US Army

 

'I was 19 and I went to the chow hall alone, and the next thing i know I was laying on the ground, and I was struck from behind, and two guys were holding me down, and one guy was pulling my pants down...he was taking care of his business...it destroyed my life.'

Michael Matthews,U.S. Air Force

Losses Suffered by the Victims

‘This is Proxatine, this is Serraquell, Serraquell, the Satalapram, this is Xanax. I’m tired of taking all these meds. I just want the VA to fix my jaw. I’ve been on a soft diet for five years now. I can’t eat the foods that I used to eat…

My main nerve in my spine was pinched in three places and my hips were rotated. I could barely walk. I had collapsed due to muscle spasms in my back because my back was injured during the rape. When we got tested, I had Trick and gonorrhoea and I was pregnant.’

Kori Cioca Oregonia, U.S. Coast Guard

 

How the U.S. Military Reacted to Sexual Assault Allegations:

‘If any rape cases came in, they were never given to women. The men always took care of those. Because we were too sympathetic. We couldn’t see what was really going on because we always took the woman’s side.’

Dr. Miette Wells, leading expert on Military Sexual Trauma

 

‘I was ordered to advise a victim of her rights for false statement when I knew that she wasn’t lying. I was asked to bring her in and advise her of her rights, like a criminal, and interrogate her for false statement quote on quote, until I got the truth out of her.

If the woman makes a rape complaint, they are always people asking what she was doing there, what she was wearing, whether she had a boyfriend or not.’

Myla Haider U.S. Army, Criminal Investigation Command Sergeant; Special Agent.

 

‘If a man gets accused of rape, it’s a setup; the woman is lying.’

Captain Debra Dickerson U.S. Air force

 

‘They actually did charge me with adultery. I wasn’t married. He was.’

Andrea Werner U.S. Army

 

The Hidden Facts

Ariana Klay U.S. Marine Corps:

‘My boss even said to me that they were mandatory to me, she’s like we do our best work at these events…you’re talking about drinking events where other senior officers are drinking to the point of peeing their pants, you know, passing out on the lawns. This is to norm.’

‘I told the battalion XO about the humiliation and the comments, and he said you know what you should do what a marine officer should do and that’s to ignore it.'

‘There was a senior officer in my command who the first time he spoke to me, he said, female marines here are nothing but objects to fuck…’ -

It is held that in units where sexual harassment is tolerated, incidents of rape triple...

The U.S. Military Legal Process & Military Justice

Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has powers to raise, and support armies, maintain a navy, provide for, organize as well as discipline them. Adhering to this authority, Congress enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), in 1950.

This code of military criminal laws applies to all U.S. military members worldwide. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are subsequently subjected to different rules, orders and proceedings than the ‘average’ civilian.

The enactment of the UCMJ is directed through the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM – a military trial). It is an official as well as executive order of the President of the U.S., to be followed by all members of the Armed Forces. This manual contains the Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM), the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE), and the UCMJ. Civilian as well as uniform men are the major drafters of the MCM.

Courts-Martial have jurisdiction even where parallel prosecution is in question (federal, state or foreign), as long as the accused is in ‘active duty’ and a member of the U.S. military, for determination of criminal culpability.

Under military law, military justice is administered through the commander in the chain of command; she or he is responsible for establishing whether the crime is serious enough to warrant a court-martial, and secondly, how the investigation will proceed.

Justice is further complicated with the fact that most, if not all commanders lack the needed and sufficient legal training in order to determine what is, and is not appropriate in felony investigations.

Commanders exercise the same legal powers as local civilian judges with professional adequacy (a ‘minor’ difference); now, the last thing a commander in the army wants to do is make the phone call to her or his battalion commander with an allegation of rape in her/his unit. After all, a commander is meant to have complete control over her/his troops.

This then, in many cases, is viewed as a failure to command with the possibility of adversely affecting a commanders career and in turn, spirals into a vicious circle of abuse of power as well as authority, with an overly extensive discretion and bias affecting a commanders track-record, establishing a flawed military legal process and justice system.

‘This is an organization that gives commanders an unbelievable amount of power. And I felt it, as a Lieutenant in Iraq, it’s scary.

You appoint the prosecution, you appoint the defence, you appoint the investigator, you’re in charge of the police force, and you’re in charge of the community.

You are judge, you are jury, you are executioner.’

Captain Ben Klay, U.S. Marine Corps

So the issue arising here is: how can one individual, without any legal training or education, have absolute and autonomous discretion of legal powers over another?

‘The problem in the military is the convening authority who is not legally trained, makes the final decision.’

Captain Greg Rinckey

Th fact is, the military stands for uniformity, obedience, maintenance of good order, and the imposition of service discipline. If this however cannot be instilled by a commander in her/his unit, then dealing with allegations free from executive and external pressure, free from unintentional bias, disregarding external factors should be the credible way towards a trustworthy, reliable military justice system, but the fact also remains that the opposite is true.

The suggestion is that by increasing independence in the military justice system, it could undermine the chain of command and most likely, put lives of troops at risk as this might challenge their effectiveness.

The fact also is if the U.S. military wants such stark control over its troops so much as to tip the scales that much by endangering the wellbeing of their troops, consequently, this can then only mean one thing: the military fears accountability plus transparency – and history teaches us that this has never had a positive outcome.

The problem therefore is: sexual assault that goes on within the U.S. military, the solution, and how the military justice system responds to this problem is to ignore or dismiss it.

The issue with this is that in order to fix a problem one has to appreciate the extent of it, which is not being appreciated, and therefore, constitutes errors by default and weakens systematic efficacy.

‘It’s about the fact that I had an almost 10-year career, which I was very invested in, and I gave that up to report a sex offender who was not even put to justice or put on the registry and he’s probably doing the same thing right now…

I was administratively discharged with no benefits after nine and a half years of service.’

Myla Haider U.S. Army, Criminal Investigation Command Sergeant, Special Agent

 



‘Four of the women were investigated or punished after they reported. No officer was punished for any assault.’

Anonymous, The Invisible War

 

‘The colonel at one point said, you know, boys, girls and alcohol just don’t mix. We’ll never really know what happened inside that office – only you and the major know and he’s not talking.

So, at this point, the investigation is closed for a lack of evidence and we’ve reopened a new investigation against you for conduct unbecoming of an officer and public intoxication.’

Elle Helmer, U.S. Marine Corps

The Consequences of Military Sexual Trauma on Women

The American Journal of Industrial Medicine reported that 40% of homeless female veterans have been raped whilst serving in 2009 alone.

They spin into such depression and abuse that they cannot hold neither jobs nor lives together, and consequently, end up on the streets or try committing suicide.

‘When I was discharged, I moved to Seattle where things got really bad. I started to lose everything. I was homeless, there was addiction, I was selling drugs, packing gun. I took a whole bottle of pills. And woke up strangely enough, I’m not sure why.

At that point in my life I just wanted it to be over. I think I was 20, 21 and then within the next year, I tried again.'

Trina McDonald U.S. Navy

 

‘I thought of it, so many times, and in so many ways. I thought about, at one point in time, hanging myself from the flagpole, with a sign on me; saying exactly what happened, to make him feel bad.’

Hannah Sewell, U.S. Navy

 

‘I was going to overdose on pain medication and sleeping medication and hope that I would fall asleep and my body would just shut down, or do something.’

Kori Cioca Oregonia, U.S. Coast Guard

Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA S.1752)

The MJIA Act, introduced to the U.S. Senate on the 16th of May 2013, centred on the rationale of advocating change to a military culture with far too common and widespread sexual assault. The act would have removed the chain of command passing judgment on military sexual assault cases.

The act however, was scolded and did not advance to a full vote, falling five votes short.

Instead, the Senate advanced the Victims Protection Act (S.1917), accounting for preservation of the authority of the commander to adjudicate on sexual assault cases within their ranks however, with the objective of presenting victims with the choice of cases taking place either in the military court arena or the civilian justice system.

So why the controversy about the MJIA? Or even, why reject it?

Well, simply because it would have taken control outside the military’s chain of command, and precisely this was rejected by the Pentagon and the U.S. Senate of the Armed Services Committee.

The preservation of power is a holy concept; Institutions do not give that up so justly, rapidly, or easily! In turn, the reality remains that commanders will continue to be immune to systems of legal justice under the Feres Doctrine, and this fundamentally catalyses inaction – and neglect within that system of ‘justice’.

Cases should be decided on principles of impartiality, independence, proportionality, fairness and in accordance with law, delivering meaningful and independent oversight.

But all of these elements and core concepts of long fought for democratic and ‘respected’ law(s) are essentially being undermined, resulting in judicial abstention.  

‘It’s like your brother committing the sexual assault and having your father decide whether to prosecute.’

KirstenGillibrand, U.S. NY Senator

Liberty considers that the Human Rights Act 1988, protected under the Constitution of the United States, applies equally to all civilians and soldiers; it is however, failing in the primitive sense that it does exactly the opposite – it does not investigate, prevent, and punish criminal behaviour. Which leaves as a conclusion, that the U.S. military legal process, and justice system, pardons – as well as appeases, perpetrators and thereby, enables otherwise criminal behaviour to prosper, and exist.

What Needs to be Done

What is needed is cultural as well as structural military criminal justice reforms, resolved through education and training.

As it currently stands, the U.S. military justice system is the last place victims seek redress, and this needs urgent changing!

Servicewomen and servicemen continue to be affected by this parasitic epidemic, which needs to stop. The common justifications of ‘what was she wearing’ or ‘was she drinking’, stopped carrying any weight as male rape is sharply on the rise, and carries an even bigger stigma.

‘It is one of the cardinal features of the law of England that a person does not, by enlisting in or entering the Armed Forces, thereby cease to be a citizen, so as to deprive him of his rights or to exempt him from his liabilities under the ordinary law of the land.’

Halsbury’s Law of England

Whilst the U.S. military has potential and technical mechanisms in dealing with sexual abuse allegations, what is lacking are core statistics, and a real disposition for sex crimes. Instead, allegations are ignored without undergoing any legal scope or repercussion.

Victims remain stigmatized if they attempt any legal redress with far-reaching consequences of the crime violently repeating itself: being discharged, entering into depression, homelessness, drug as well as alcohol abuse, and/or suicide.

Having dismissed the Military Justice Improvement Act, the chain of command remains in absolute and autonomous control over the outcome of sexual abuse allegations, disproving justice, independence and transparency within the U.S. military, which is further complicated by the Feres doctrine.

The need for structural and procedural change of the U.S. military justice system seems to be debated a lot by Congress; however, as long as no valid disclosure of the efficacy of military sexual assault cases is achieved, the U.S. military legal process and justice system remains an ineffective and mythical concept, harming fellow soldiers.

SOURCES

The Invisible War Movie

Senate approves McCaskill sexual assault bill in 97-0 vote

Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013

Military Justice, Proposals for a Fair and Independent Military Justice System

The U.S. Department of Justice

The Effect of the Feres Doctrine on Tort Actions Against the United States by Family Members of Servicemen

Informing the Debate About Sexual Assault In The Military Services: Is the Department of Defense Its own Worst Enemy?

World Military Spending

Military rape: Fighting the invisible war inside the Armed Forces

The Inquisitr - Military Men Sexually Assaulted Refuse to Report Crimes

The U.S. Military Justice System