'US doesn't protect its female soldiers'
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Washington, January 05: One in three women in the US military say they have been sexually assaulted, while numerous cases of rape go unreported and the perpetrators rarely stand trial, according to an anti-war group.
"It is very disconcerting to know that one out of three women in the military say that they have been sexually assaulted, and then to know that these same soldiers are deployed overseas in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where they, unfortunately, are bound to continue their abuse of women," Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the anti-war group CODEPINK, told Press TV on Tuesday.
Benjamin, who is also the founding director of the international human rights organization Global Exchange, also expressed deep concern about US soldiers' treatment of Iraqis and Afghans during their missions overseas.
She stated that very few of the US soldiers accused of sexual misconduct have been prosecuted, with figures released by the Department of Defense showing that in fiscal year 2009 there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year.
"Often times they [rapist soldiers] are deployed in very rural places where there is not a lot of oversight of what they are doing, and just like here in the United States, there are few cases where the soldiers who have been accused of raping women overseas have actually been brought to trial," Benjamin said.
The Pentagon recently reported that the number of sexual assaults at US military academies increased 64 percent in 2010.
In 2009, a Pentagon report also pointed to an 11 percent rise in sexual assaults in the military over the previous year.
In December, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a federal lawsuit against the Pentagon for putting a lid on the exact number of sex crimes committed by service members within the United States military.
The Pentagon has consistently refused to release records that fully document the issue of sexual harassment in the US military and how it is handled.