Just how many women have to be raped before the military DOES SOMETHING about it?

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Here’s just the latest  depressing assessment from my virtual colleague Dan Filler over at  The Faculty Lounge:  

040609_harman_hmed_9ah2Representative Jane Harman has a disturbing post up at Huffington (which is also an LA Times op-ed) discussing the frequency of   rape in the military – and particularly the extent that woman soldiers are sexually assaulted.   Everyone knows I’m a crime data skeptic.   Still, I was particularly troubled by some Department of Defense stats she cites for 2007.   Here’s a snapshot:

Only 181 out of 2,212 subjects investigated for sexual assault in 2007, including 1,259 reports of rape, were referred to courts-martial…. Another 218 were handled via nonpunitive administrative action or discharge, and 201 subjects were disciplined through “nonjudicial punishment,” which means they may have been confined to quarters, assigned extra duty or received a similar slap on the wrist. In nearly half of the cases investigated, the chain of command took no action; more than a third of the time, that was because of “insufficient evidence.”   This is in stark contrast to the civilian trend of prosecuting sexual assault. In California, for example, 44% of reported rapes result in arrests, and 64% of those who are arrested are prosecuted, according to the California Department of Justice.

The Huffington Post’s provocative homepage teaser for the post – women in the military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire – turns out to be a wild understatement.   For whatever reasons – everything from institutional culture around gender and sex to a healthy does of troop omerta – the military seems unable to safely support a co-ed force.   Moreover, if Harman’s analysis is anything close to right, we have a whole other cohort of injured soldiers coming home – and one that I fear nobody in Washington, at the VA, or pretty much anywhere else, is taking seriously.  

-Kathleen A. Bergin    

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0 Responses to Just how many women have to be raped before the military DOES SOMETHING about it?

  1. Pingback: Saying no to military rape

  2. KH says:

    I think you have good reason to be skeptical of this report. First, these numbers add up to 600 punishments per 2,212 sexual assaults (which is broader than rape). While only 181 were courts martialed, the others did get punishment. Discharge is punishment as is non-judicial military punishment which can mean time in corrective custody, lost pay and much more than “extra duty”.

    If the chain of command doesn’t take action in half of the cases how is that drastically worse that an arrest rate for RAPE that is only 44%? It seems that insufficient evidence would be the reason in both scenarios.
    Using these numbers, If 1259 rapes were reported in CA, only 354 would get prosecuted and the numbers don’t say how many would be convicted. If you assume that all of the 181 that went to courts martial were out of the 1,259 reports of rape that would be a 14.4% prosecution rate, compared to 28.1% in CA but the real difference is that the 71.9% in CA likely receive no punishment at all – no lost job, no lost retirement, no life-long other than honorable discharge on their record, etc.