Thursday, March 15, 2007

To Fight and Die for This

In one of the most disturbing articles I've read in ages, Helen Benedict describes the overwhelming rate of sexual assault against the female soldiers serving in Iraq. There certainly would be a lot more news on the subject if the attackers had been our purported enemy, but the women are victims of their own male counterparts in the barracks, and is covered up. This isn't M.A.S.H., where men and women live together in flirtatious '70s bliss, this is rape halfway from home stuck in a system that, not only cannot be controlled, but condones the act. One choice quote:

"Several soldiers I interviewed told me that if a commander won't tolerate the mistreatment of women, it will not happen, and studies back this up," Benedict writes.

If this is true, then there are enough commanders who indeed do tolerate the mistreatment of women that this problem exists. One is too many, but the over 5,000 unprosecuted reports of sexual assault in the military since 1992 suggest a lot. All soldiers, male or female, in every branch of service depend on their fellow soldiers to protect them, to take a bullet for them, and they will do the same. How can a woman who has been harassed daily expect to have her harassers to watch her back, when they obviously have such little inherent regard for her as a person, let alone as soldier. Moreover, the gall of the male soldiers to think that she should be expected to protect them shows a wanton lack of conscience that seems deliberate. Meatshields on the battlefield, meat in the camps; how can anyone support a military against terrorism that can so blatantly turn a blind eye to the terrorism in their own camps? I guarantee that, if there was a shadow of homosexual rape in the military, those offenders would be given the swifted, strictest punishment allowable. This would not stand.

I think that the only way I could be more depressed by this is if I was actually surprised by it....