We are Pittsburgh-area civilians and veterans joining together to demand an end to sexual assault in the military. Many of us are activists in peace and human rights organizations.
Some of us personally know the terror and lasting trauma of sexual assault and harassment.
We are united in our belief that sexual abuse and assault within the military is criminal, intolerable and can be dramatically reduced.
Sexual Assault Crisis
In 2012 the Department of Defense estimated that 26,000 female and male soldiers were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted. That’s 70 people every single day. A Department of Veteran’s Affairs survey revealed that nearly one in four female soldiers reported being sexually assaulted while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. And overall, recent surveys of female veterans have found that close to one out of every three is assaulted by a superior, a fellow soldier or a gang of them! The ratio is not so startling among male victims, but in absolute numbers, it is astonishingly nearly 20,000 men (1.2 percent of men in the military) as reported in 2012.
The military is a relatively controlled environment with strict rules, procedures and punishments. This plague of sexual assault could NOT occur without the broad complicity of the Brass, the Pentagon, and soldiers who participate in or are aware of this sexual violence. Nor could it have reached this epidemic level without the complacency of Congress and the White House.
The Pentagon estimates that as few as one in ten attacks are reported and a much smaller number result in prosecutions and convictions. Yet, some brave women and men, risking their careers and sometimes their lives, are challenging this invisible war by very publicly revealing themselves and their torturous experiences. They are demanding their rights as service members…as American citizens.
Recently with the public spotlight focused on this crisis, politicians express surprise and horror. It will take an informed and mobilized public to force President Obama, Congress, and the Military to take truly effective actions. We must demand that the military be held accountable. We must demand that perpetrators and their accomplices be vigorously exposed, prosecuted and severely punished. We owe this to veterans, active duty soldiers, and future recruits.
We will support legislation that will effectively aid victims in reporting crimes, provide for experts in this field to investigate and prosecute the accused, protect the rights of victims and the accused, and provide for appropriately severe punishment for the guilty. Effective legislation must include taking this process out of the normal chain of command.
Our Goals and Activities
– Support the victims’ services within the military and in our community.
– Seek to warn potential recruits, female and male, that enlisting in any branch of the US military puts them at high risk of being sexually assaulted.
– Encourage ROTC programs to engage in serious sexual harassment and assault training.
– Engage in direct action—peaceful demonstrations—when appropriate to draw attention to our issues and apply pressure on the powers that be.
– Engage the regional and campus media to continue covering the issue and editorially endorsing effective legislative and other actions to address sexual assault.
-Host screenings of Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War to expose the issue.
-Reach out to and cooperate with local and national groups concerned with this issue.
These sites include articles, reports, photos, and video clips to help you become more informed about the crisis of military sexual assault:
Thomas Merton Center
Pittsburgh, Pa 15224