Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NYT: 10% of Military Sexual Abuse
Cases Are Male-on-Male Attacks

The New York Times ran a lengthy front-page article yesterday about some of the sexual harassment and rapes suffered by woman in the U.S. armed services. After too many years of the Department of Defense ignoring or underplaying the sexual hazards faced by female soldiers, military leaders are creating programs to document and deal with the abuse.

Left unstated was the matter of the male attackers' sexual orientation, presumably heterosexual. To my gay mind, it was incumbent upon the paper to delve into this because many conservative defenders of the anti-gay Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy erroneously claim the mere presence of open homosexuals could destroy unit cohesion. Seems plain to me, thanks to such Times pieces, that unit cohesion and morale suffer when heterosexual males sexually abuse female soldiers.

One thing that stood out was this paragraph, because it shows how the ban on gays in the military prevents males sexually attacked by other males from coming forward to report abuses:

At least 10 percent of the victims in the last year were men, a reality that the Pentagon’s task force said the armed services had done practically nothing to address in terms of counseling, treatment and prosecution. Men are considered even less likely to report attacks, officials said, because of the stigma, and fears that their own sexual orientation would be questioned. In the majority of the reported cases, the attacker was male.

The Times went on to report how the sexual assaults affect personnel:

“For the military the potential costs are even higher as it can also negatively impact mission readiness,” the Pentagon’s annual report on sexual abuse said, referring to sexual violence. “Service members risk their lives for one another and bear the responsibility of keeping fellow service members out of harm’s way. Sexual assault in the military breaks this bond.”

That sober assessment is a powerful reminder that no U.S. soldier should face sexual intimidation or rape or assault from colleagues and superiors.

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