Rape – a US Military non-crime?

WASHINGTON (AP)Today, a group of former and existing U.S. military service personnel are bringing a class action suit against the US government for rape and other sexual abuse. They say that their experience of sexual abuse whilst in service in the US military has motivated them to seek the US to change the way it deals with rape and sexual abuse cases.

The group consisting of 12 female and 2 male existing, or former US military members say that soldiers get away with rape and other sexual offences and often their victims get forced to work with their attackers after their ordeal. They allege that perpetrators of the rape and other sexual offences include an Army Criminal investigator and an Army National Guard commander.

The abuse they say ranges  from gang rape to verbal abuse.  One of the group says that two  male colleagues raped her in Iraq and took a video of the event which was circulated to their colleagues. Her commanding officer took no action despite her being bruised from the attack and suggested that she had been a willing participant.

The problem of rape in the military is not only service members getting raped, but it’s the entire way that the military as a whole is dealing with it,” said Panayiota Bertzikis, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit and claims she was raped in 2006. “From survivors having to be involuntarily discharged from service, the constant verbal abuse, once a survivor does come forward your entire unit is known to turn their back on you. The entire culture needs to be changed.”

Here are two of plaintiffs’ stories:-

1) Bertzikis, 29, of Somerville, Mass., now  executive director of the Military Rape Crisis Center, says she was raped by a Coast Guard shipmate whilst hiking with him in Burlington, Vt.  She had complained to her commanding officer, but said that nothing much was done and instead, she was forced to live on the same floor as her attacker and had to put up with others calling her a “liar” and “whore.”

2) Kori Cioca, 25, of Wilmington, Ohio, said that she was hit in the face by a superior in 2005 and was raped by him in a second incident whilst serving in the Coast Guard in Bay City, Mich. Even though he had admitted having sex with her, she was warned that she would be court-martialed for lying if she brought charges. She said she continues to suffer from numbness in her jaw and has nightmares. “My body hurts every day. My face hurts. I get the most horrible headaches. My body has been trespassed. The honor that I had was stripped from me. I’m no longer proud of myself. People tell me thank you for your service, but my service wasn’t what it was supposed to be,” Cioca said.

What are your views? Remember, commenting is free in International Times of Dominica…

[Sexual Crimes Contributor]

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