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The Armed Forces’ response to rape makes ‘military justice’ an oxymoron

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The Invisible WarThirty-four women and men appear on camera in the documentary “Invisible War,” which opens in theatres June 22, to discuss being raped in the military. Statistics flash on the screen: 20 percent of women are sexually assaulted while serving in the United States military.

An estimated 500,000 women have been assaulted in the last 20 years. In fiscal year 2009, 3,230 women reported sexual assault, and the Department of Defense estimates that 80 percent of women never report — meaning their own numbers indicate 16,150 women were assaulted that year. An estimated one percent of male servicemembers are sexually assaulted in the military each year, or around 20,000 men.

And in 2010, only 175 rapists did time.

With numbers like that, and more than a dozen of current and former investigators, JAG officers and military psychiatrists who appear on camera to detail the utter, sometimes willful inability of commanders or the Department of Defense to address the widespread epidemic of sexual assault in the military, it’s hard to avoid drawing one conclusion: the military would far rather let rapists serve than protect the women who do.


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