Friday, August 01, 2008
But no one draws the obvious conclusion. War, such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq, unleashes an uncontrollable, repetitive cycle of violence, and the participants abuse anyone more vulnerable than them. Within the context of US occupation forces, the victims are frequently Iraqi, as US forces kill, injure, sexually abuse and detain them in ways that gratify their need to display their ability to brutally dominate others.
A congresswoman said Thursday that her "jaw dropped" when military doctors told her that four in 10 women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the military.report indicates that the numbers could be even higher.
Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, spoke before a House panel investigating the way the military handles reports of sexual assault.
She said she recently visited a Veterans Affairs hospital in the Los Angeles area, where women told her horror stories of being raped in the military.
"My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41 percent of the female veterans seen there say they were victims of sexual assault while serving in the military," said Harman, who has long sought better protection of women in the military.
"Twenty-nine percent say they were raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and downward spirals many of their lives have taken since.
"We have an epidemic here," she said. "Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq."
For some reason, we assume that such sadomasochistic behaviour is confined to the indigenous populace subjected to the occupation. Of course, after the most cursory thought, it becomes rather obvious that it is impossible to construct such arbitrary boundaries. Soldiers intoxicated by the power to kill and sexually assault others are going to eventually target anyone that provides an opportunity for gratification. And, as this CNN article sadly indicates, male soldiers have increasingly targeted female soldiers as well.
No wonder the Pentagon refused to send a subpoenaed witness to the congressional hearing on the subject. The witness would have had to explain how to continue to successfully enforce an occupation predicated upon the use of violence against the Iraqi populace while protecting women within the US military. Perhaps, not impossible, but certainly very difficult. In any event, women should think carefully as to whether they want to enlist in the US military, as there is no reason to think that the leadership can protect them against sexual assault.