Talk about “the few and the proud…” Since I’ve been in Okinawa, I learned that women make up a mere 6 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps. From that small minority, come big shocking numbers. One third of those women are sexually assaulted during their time in the military, and 90 percent are sexually harassed. Imagine your commanding officer—your boss—putting your hand on his crotch. Imagine a man you live and/or work with forcing his way into your room. These violations happen all the time. And I’ve heard a great many stories since I’ve been here.
I don’t expect military bases to be immune from the same social issues that happen everywhere in America. Crime happens; it’s inevitable. And incidents of sexual assault increase hugely where there are young people downing copious amounts of alcohol.
In the military, the system really breaks down in terms of reporting and prosecuting sexual assault. Imagine—if you can bear it—that you were the victim of a sexual assault, and—brave as you are—you’ve decided to report it. As a civilian, the police would immediately get involved in your case. As a female service woman, however, your case is turned over to your commanding officer (your boss, occasionally the same man who enabled your harassment and mistreatment). A sexual assault would be really beneficial to his career, right? How personally motivated would he be to push the report forward and see that justice got served? See where I’m going with this?
I know y’all are busy. But please, read more about the STOP ACT, which among other things, would change the way sexual assaults in the military get reported. Instead of reports of rape and misconduct going through the chain of command (the way they are now), they would go through an autonomous sexual assault response office staffed by civilians as well as service men and women. Please write to your representatives. You can also track and support the STOP ACT here.
It’s time to support our female service women, who do so very much for us.
and thanks for listening… Koren x