Almost half of all US women deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan say they were sexually harassed, while nearly one-quarter claim they were sexually assaulted. The findings shed light on the additional stress military women face when they work abroad.
Research by the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that sexual misconduct is a much greater problem than previously believed, since the Pentagon asserts that few reports were filed alleging sexual assault.
Only 115 such reports were filed in 2011, even though about 20,000 women were serving in Afghanistan in February. One of the study’s lead researchers, Amy Street, believes the data demonstrates an emotional cost of war that has hardly been considered.
The “lion’s share of the attention… has focused on combat exposure,” she told USA Today.
Of the 1,100 women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and were surveyed by Street’s team, 48.6 percent admitted to being sexually harassed and 22.8 percent admitted to being sexually assaulted – and in some cases raped – while serving in a war zone.
But regardless of the new findings, the Pentagon has not promised to take any action to tackle the problem of sexual misconduct. Nate Galbreath, a senior adviser for the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office, said that he is not assessing Street’s research until he learns more about how it was conducted.
“It comes down to culture. (It) hasn’t changed, no matter what the generals or the secretaries of Defense say about zero tolerance,” California Rep. Jackie Speier told USA Today. “They have not scrubbed the sexism… out of the military.”
Many of the women who reported sexual harassment allege that the perpetrators were US military men. Earlier this year, dozens of female recruits at an Air Force base in Texas said they were sexually assaulted by their male instructors, while an Army brigadier is being forced to appear in court for sexually assaulting lower-ranking women while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Street’s study, 47 percent of women who suffered from sexual misconduct said the offenders held a higher rank.
And the problem has been on the rise: reports of sexual assault at US military academies have increased from 65 in 2011 to 80 in 2012 – although most such cases seem to go unreported. The Pentagon estimated last year that the number of reports of sexual assaults on women is less than 20 percent of the number of actual incidents.
“Women in the armed forced are now more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in combat,” Newsweek’s Jesse Ellison wrote last year.
But even though the problem has long been known, little action has been done to tackle it and only six percent of cases lead to a conviction, causing the women to “suffer in silence”, The Huffington Post reported.
While Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has claimed a no-tolerance policy for sexual assaults in the military, Sgt. Rebekah Havrilla believes his promises have no meaning.
“This whole concept of ‘zero tolerance’, it’s just words and no action,” she told The Huffington Post. The woman said that while the violence of war was brutal, she was most disturbed by the way the military men sexually harassed and assaulted her.
“Suicide bombers in pieces, [people] pulling dead American soldiers out of Humvees – I have seen a lot of stuff people should never see,” she said. “It was part of my job; death was something I had to deal with. I never, ever thought I was gonna have to deal with my supporters being the ones that did the most damage.”
During a one-year period between 2010 and 2011, the Pentagon received 3,192 reports of sexual assault, which equates to about 52 a day.
The new study by the Department of Veteran Affairs simply brings forth more evidence of the problem of sexual assault in the US military, which is especially prevalent in war zones. The Pentagon has so far refused to comment on the survey results.
- VA finds sexual assaults more common in war zones (usatoday.com)
US officials have finally acknowledged responsibility for a September assassination drone attack in Yemen that killed civilians, including women and children, after futile attempts by the Yemeni government to falsely claim blame in a bid to cover-up the American involvement.
The Yemeni government initially announced that “its Soviet-era jets” had carried out the September 2nd attack, killing alleged al-Qaeda militants, but the country’s tribal leaders and officials later admitted that it was an American assassination drone strike that caused the killing and that “all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen,” The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
US officials, the daily notes, acknowledged last week “for the first time that it was an American strike.”
According to the report, over three months after the deadly US terror drone strike, the incident sheds light into “the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults.”
Three weeks after the Radda strike, US-sponsored Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi visited Washington and “praised the accuracy of US [assassination] drone strikes” in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, as well as publicly,” the daily notes.
“They pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error, if you know what target you’re aiming at,” Hadi reportedly said to an audience at the US think tank, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Washington played a key role in ousting Yemen’s former President Saleh and installing his ex-defense minister Hadi, the daily further adds, noting that the United States provides the Yemeni regime with “hundreds of millions of dollars” in military and “counterterrorism assistance.”
“US officials regard Hadi as an even stauncher counterterrorism ally than [former US-sponsored ruler Ali Abdullah] Saleh.”
US assassination aerial strikes have murdered numerous civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world, the daily confirms, adding that “those governments have spoken against the [drone] attacks.”
“But in Yemen, the weak government has often tried to hide civilian casualties from the public, fearing repercussions in a nation where hostility toward US policies is widespread. It continues to insist in local media reports that its own aging jets attacked the truck.”
The US daily also refers to another US terror drone strike in 2009 which the Yemeni regime claimed responsibility for. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” said a US Embassy e-mail leaked by the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks, quoting then Yemeni ruler Saleh as telling the head of US Central Command at the time, General David Petraeus.
This is while the Obama administration has publicly remained silent about the deadly strike, “neither confirming nor denying any involvement, a standard practice with most US airstrikes in its clandestine counterterrorism fight in this strategic Middle Eastern country,” the Post underlines.
The daily further quotes unnamed US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as confirming that “it was a Defense Department aircraft, either a drone or a fixed-wing warplane, that fired on the truck [in the Radda attack].” It notes that the Pentagon, as well as “senior US officials in Yemen and senior counterterrorism officials in Washington,” have declined to comment on the incident.
Meanwhile, the reports reiterated, public outrage is growing in Yemen as demands “for accountability, transparency and compensation go unanswered amid allegations by human rights activists and lawmakers that the government is trying to cover up the attack to protect its relationship with Washington.”
- Thousands of Yemenis hold anti-US, anti-Israeli Protest in Sana’a (jafrianews.com)
- 1000s of Yemenis hold anti-US, anti-Israeli demo (realisticbird.wordpress.com)
NEW DELHI – Prominent Indian writer and human rights activist, Arundhati Roy has said that the Indian army and police are using rape as a weapon against the people of Kashmir and parts of India like Manipur.
Arundhati Roy in a media interview in New Delhi while commenting on the issue of the recent Delhi rape incident said that when rape was used as a means of domination by the Upper Caste of the Hindus or by the army and police in India, it always went unpunished.
She said that rape was legitimately used, as the Indian laws protected the culprits when they did it. Arundhati Roy questioned why Indians did not demand the death penalty for the perpetrators of such crimes in occupied Kashmir.
APHC (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani in a statement in New Delhi while denouncing the incident criticized the Indian people’s silence over numerous such occurrences in Kashmir. He referred to the tragedies of Kunan-Poshpora, Chanapora and Shopian and said that the culprits in these cases were identified but, even though, were not punished.
And in Srinagar, Jamaat-e-Islami and APHC leader, Zafar Akbar Butt in separate statements raised concerns over double standards adopted by Indian civil society towards the people especially rape victims in the territory.
A majority of Kashmiri youth using Facebook and other social network websites expressed surprise that the entirety of India was demanding the execution of Delhi rapists, but the troops involved in the gory incident of Kunan Poshpora in the occupied territory were protected by the system.
- Delhi gang rape case unveils India’s double standards (sananews.net)
- Muslim leader reminds Indians about raped Kashmiri women (worldbulletin.net)
- Justice for IOK rape victims demanded (sananews.net)
At least 237 Israeli soldiers have commit suicide over the past ten years, a report says.
According to secret data released by the Israeli military, an average of 24 troops decide to take their own lives every year, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Thursday.
According to the report, an annual average of 40 Israeli army forces also killed themselves between 1990 and 2000.
The official data regarding the suicide rate had been released for the first time by an unknown Israeli blogger, who was later investigated by Israeli police.
The blogger also found out that the real number of suicides in the Israeli army had been much greater than what the official data show.
The Israeli newspaper Maariv published an article in 2003, saying that suicide had been the number one cause of death in the Israeli army.
The Israeli ministry for military affairs recently reported that the number of Israeli soldiers who commit suicide exceeds that of those killed in battles.