WHAT A SURPRISE...
The New York Times story reports "Rape Cases Surprise Military". At the risk of employing the over-used colloquial -"duh"- I wonder, what actually, is so surprising here?
The Air Force's Pacific Command study concluded that more "services" were needed for the Air Force personnel who were rape victims, and that broader "training" and better "reporting" of the crimes were needed.
Do what? Train men not to rape women? Teach women how to better report crimes should they occur?
In the last 18 months the study shows two dozen women at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas have reported to a local rape-crisis center that they were assaulted in 2002. In the Central Command area of operations which includes Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan there have been at least 112 reports of sexual misconduct, including rape. Of the 106 service members accused of these crimes some were court-martialed, some convicted of lesser charges and demoted, others were sentenced to prison.
The Center for Military Readiness has petitioned President George Bush to reconsider the role of women soldiers in combat and to look at the big picture. The group says it's not a pretty picture. Pointing to the last hours of captured soldier Spc. Lori Piestewa and those leading up to the return of her friend Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the non-profit group of over 5,000 retired military officers says the military has remained silent about what happened to these two women in the hours immediately after their capture. That, the group contends is the TRUE picture of what combat duty for women entails. Jessica Lynch, in her book "I Am A Soldier, Too" confirms medical records that show she was sodomized after her capture. She says she was unconscious and doesn't know who victimized her.
Lori Piestewa is shown in NBC Nightly News footage lying in bed with her head bloody and bandaged and her eyes swollen as a hand grabs her hair and twists her face toward the camera. Did Lori suffer the same indignity as her friend did before she died?
Lori's mother says in light of this "If my child decides that's what she wants to do, fight for her country, then she should be allowed to do it". This, from the woman who was left to care for her daughter's small children when she went off "to fight for her country".
Rep. Trent Franks, R, Ariz., a member of the House Armed Services Committee whose district includes the Hopi Reservation Lori lived on said "tragically, brutal rape is used as a weapon…we as a nation…must ask ourselves if we are allowing unequal risks to women in the name of so-called equality. It is too high a price."
The Women in the Military Project's director, retired Navy Captain Lory Manning says despite the attacks against women on US bases and in combat areas "we could not be doing what we're doing right now in Iraq and Afghanistan without women being there."
Manning was referring to the fact that because of cultural and religious reasons male soldiers would not be able to perform body searches on Muslim women. Instead, US women willingly submit to amped-up versions of "body searches" by their comrades- in- arms and enemy soldiers alike.
Be careful what you ask for…
The Pentagon, acting on a law giving women greater roles in the military, loosened restrictions on women's military service in 1994. While they cannot serve in front line infantry they're getting closer all the time.
Women don't belong on bases, in submarines or combat areas with men. Why? Actually it's very simple. Men rape women. Men in combat situations or close living quarters don't always play by the rules of a civilized society.
Ask Jessica Lynch, she can tell you. Lori Piestewa can't- she's dead; and her babies now call Grandma "Mommy".
© 2004 Mary Starrett - All Rights Reserved
Mary Starrett was on television for 21 years as a news anchor, morning talk show host and medical reporter. For the last 5 years she hosted a radio program. Mary is a frequent guest on radio talk shows. E-Mail M123STAR@aol.com
"Women don't belong on bases, in submarines or combat areas with men. Why? Actually it's very simple. Men rape women. Men in combat situations or close living quarters don't always play by the rules..."