News / USA

    Female Senators Lecture Military Chiefs on Sex Assault

    Women Senators Lecture Male Military Chiefs on Sexual Assaulti
    X
    June 05, 2013 10:35 AM
    The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings Tuesday into sexual assault in the military, following a Pentagon report that found as many as 26,000 cases of abuse in the past year. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that women senators took the lead in grilling the nation's highest-ranking military commanders.
    Women Senators Lecture Male Military Chiefs on Sexual Assault
    The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings Tuesday into sexual assault in the military, following a Pentagon report that found as many as 26,000 cases of abuse in the past year.

    A recent documentary alleges the military is crawling with sexual predators, and a new Pentagon report shows a 35 percent rise in cases of “unwanted sexual contact” in the last two years.

    Both have angered lawmakers - especially women lawmakers. Several on the Senate Armed Services Committee gave the all-male top brass an earful.

    “You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you, that you will actually bring justice in these cases," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New York. "They’re afraid to report. They think their careers will be over. They fear retaliation. They fear being blamed."

    Gillibrand has proposed legislation that would allow sexual assaults to be reported outside the chain of command.

    Proponents of the legislation say that’s what been done by the defense forces of allies such as Israel.  

    U.S. Army Generals stand ready to testify about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013.U.S. Army Generals stand ready to testify about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013.
    x
    U.S. Army Generals stand ready to testify about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013.
    U.S. Army Generals stand ready to testify about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military at a Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013.
    But Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno warned it could weaken discipline. “If I believed that removing commanders from their central role of responsibility in addressing sexual assault would solve these crimes within our ranks, I would be your strongest proponent," he said. "But removing commanders, making commanders less responsible and less accountable, will not work.”

    He promised to create a safer environment for women but said it is wrong to - “legislate our way out of the problem.”

    That prompted a lecture from Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.  “There are two problems. One is you have sexual predators who are committing crimes. Two, you have work to do on a respectful work environment," she stated. "These are not the same issues. With all due respect General Odierno, we can prosecute our way out of the first issue."

    She admonished commanders who blame the problem on promiscuous youth. “This isn’t about sex. This is about assaultive domination and violence," she said. "And as long as those two get mushed together you all are not going to be as successful as you need to be.”

    The panel also heard from former Marine Captain Anu Bhagwati, who described the military as rooted in sexist traditions and rites of passage. “Going to strip clubs, brothels, red light districts both within the United States and overseas, exposure to violent bestial pornography, rape jokes and constant verbal harassment," he explained.

    The military acknowledges that it's dealing with an epidemic of sexual assaults. But commanders worry that legislation coming out of these hearings may end up undercutting their authority.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora