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Why the military hasn't stopped sexual abuse

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Military sexual abuseUSA Today interviewed lawmakers, social scientists and people who have worked on the sexual assault issue inside the military to determine why the Pentagon hasn't been able to stem this predatory tide. All pointed to two factors — one a new plague, the other as old as the military itself — standing in the way:

•A military culture more coarse toward women in the ranks, the result of stress from a decade of war and the status of females as second-class warriors barred from combat roles. Male recruits are drawn from a society where violence and objectification of women are staple elements of films and video games.

•A military justice system with origins dating to the Revolutionary War that gives commanders of accused troops ultimate power over legal proceedings.

A starting point, experts say, might be the culture producing our soldiers.

"There's a coarsening of American life which is altogether too evident," says James Burk, a sociology professor at Texas A&M University who specializes in the military, referring to the proliferation of violence toward women in films and video games. "I'm sure the recruits are bringing that in with them," he says.

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