(Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault)
There has been a lot of rape in the news lately. This is not to say that rape is new, but heavy media coverage of it is. From a small town in Ohio to major cities in India, we are hearing a lot about a crime that is often buried, ignored, and subsequently forgotten. It is tragic the way rape victims (especially male rape victims) get swept under the rug of collective ignorance and denial.
According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every two minutes (that’s 15 victims while I’ve been writing this post). 54% of rapes will never be reported and the depressing truth is 97% of rapists will never spend ONE day in jail.
The reality is, and it seems so silly to say this in the year 2013, but rape is not well understood. This is evident when news coverage sympathizes with the rapists, when the victims are interrogated and the public basically forces them to prove to us that they didn’t deserve to be raped, when there are cover-ups, when there are jokes, and so on and on it goes.
So this week I viewed an eye-opening documentary about rape in the military, where victims have fewer options for justice and where rape culture isn’t just tolerated, it’s actively encouraged.
The Invisible War was extremely difficult to get through, the victim’s stories of rape were horrific but what was really infuriating was the way they were mocked, ignored, and otherwise hostilely mistreated by the military justice system (or lack thereof).
What I learned from the film:
-Rapes in the military are severely underreported and most cases never make it to court.
-Rape victims have no access to truly objective investigators or prosecutors, since all cases are handled by the military, and commanders have the power to decide how cases proceed (this power was recently revoked after the Secretary of Defense viewed this documentary).
-In half of reported cases the person to report to was either a friend of the rapist or the rapist themselves.
-While rape allegations rarely result in charges, victims are often charged with making false statements and adultery (even when it is the rapist and not the victim that is married). The victims often get discharged and the allegations (even repeated ones) do not prevent rapists from receiving promotions and honors.
– Military rape victims suffer more severe PTSD symptoms
– In addition, after a failed lawsuit alleging suppression of victims’ rights, the court ruled that rape was an “occupational hazard” in the military and so victims had no right to sue.
-In some cases, rape is actively encouraged as part of tradition, including the Tailhooks scandal involving a tradition in the where women are forced to walk down a hallway while being groped and molested by their male peers.
-Despite rehashed promises from top military brass, no real change has been implemented in the way rape cases are handled.
-The Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Office has only gone as far as releasing training videos which encourage women to “play their part” in preventing rape by “walking with a buddy”.
I could go on, but I encourage you to watch it.
And if you have, what did you think?
5/5 Ticket stubs