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August 26, 2005

Conduct unbecoming

For women in the military, nothing changes:

WASHINGTON — A culture that devalues women in uniform tolerates rape and sexual harassment at the Army and Navy academies, according to a Pentagon task force report released Thursday.
“When women are devalued, the likelihood of harassing and even abusive behavior increases,” said the panel of military officers and civilian experts. It proposed wide-ranging action, from better admissions screening to revamping antiquated military rape laws.
Congress ordered the review of the Army and Navy academies after a 2003 investigation at the Air Force academy found sexual assault “a part of life” for cadets. That investigation arose after almost 150 women came forward to say they had been assaulted by fellow cadets between 1993 and 2003.
… The report cited 2004 Pentagon data showing 50% of women at all three academies were harassed, mostly verbally but dozens suffering physical abuse. Tolerance of “hostile attitudes and inappropriate actions toward women” continues “to hinder the establishment of a safe and professional environment,” it said.
“I’m not surprised at all, I regret to say,” said retired Air Force brigadier general Wilma Vaught, president of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. “I don’t know what we have to do to end” the harassment of women by some male colleagues.

The answer, of course, is implement real third-party reviews and oversight, and not permit academy students to get away with what would, in the real world, be criminal acts. (If any non-military establishments had as bad a record as the academies, they would have been shut down years ago.)

The Pentagon says it wants to see criminal rape laws for the military “similar to” those of many states, but you could drive a Hummer through that caveat. Mostly, it is recommending a slew of vaguer measures, including “tougher consequences” for harassers; increasing the percentage of women on faculties and student bodies; and delving deeper into new students’ backgrounds for signs of past trouble.

None of which will be done with any rigor, if past experience is anything to go by.

Posted by Stephen at 12:20 AM in Legal issues | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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