News / USA

Female Senators Lecture Military Chiefs on Sex Assault

Women Senators Lecture Male Military Chiefs on Sexual Assaulti
X
June 05, 2013
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid