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The Big Military Story No One Wants to Talk About Right Now: Rape

Posted: Nov 19, 2012

 Salacious details of Gen. David Petraus’s adulterous relationship with biographer Paula Broadwell—and all of the attendant sexist framing—have eclipsed a much more important military story.

Yesterday, the Air Force imposed what it calls a “wingman policy” requiring its trainees at the Lackland base in San Antonio, Texas, to be with at least one classmate at all times. The move comes in response to an Air Training and Command investigation that identified 23 instructors on the base who had allegedly raped, sexually harassed or had “unprofessional relationships” with 48 trainees.

Lackland trains all Air Force recruits, [Bloomberg reports.] (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-14/wingman-rule-to-curb-sex-abuse-is-adopted-by-air-force.html) So far, five officials have been convicted in court martials on charges ranging from adultery to rape and others could face criminal charges.

Of course the epidemic of unpunished rape within the U.S. military—and the routine silencing of and retaliation against enlisted survivors who dare to report it—isn’t new. Due in large part to the release of the Academy Award-nominated “Invisible War” documentary, the sustained activism of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), and several high-profile class action civil suits filed against former and current Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Leon Panetta, the issue has captured headlines. In April, the Pentagon made several changes to its dysfunctional sexual assault protocol, such as extending evidence retention for 50 years and granting service-people who have been assaulted immediate transfers so that they don’t have to report to or interact with their attackers while the crime is being investigated. Read more here.

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