Sexual Assault in the Military Rose by 35% in Two Years
Yesterday the Department of Defense issued an annual report that showed that sexual assault in the military rose by 35% from 2010 to 2012.
The report found that 26,000 members of the military experienced "unwanted sexual contact" in 2012 when answering an anonymous survey - a rate of approximately 70 assaults a day. That number is almost 7,000 instances higher than in 2010. In addition the report found only 3,374 reports of sexual assault were filed, according to the Pentagon. Of those cases filed, fewer than one in 10 ended with a court-martial conviction of sexual assault. In the majority of cases, the alleged attacker faced small administrative punishments or the case was dismissed.
The report has garnered outrage from many political leaders. President Obama told reporters, "The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this... If we find out somebody's engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged - period." Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement "If we needed any more evidence that the military justice system needs to change to hold sexual predators accountable and protect survivors of assault, this report has provided it. These crimes are a dark stain on our armed forces that poison morale and readiness, and that must be confronted." Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) told the Huffington Post "When our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding that they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people... However, it's unconscionable to think that entertaining unwanted sexual contact from within the ranks is now part of that equation."
The Department of Defense report comes one day after news broke that the chief of the Air Force's branch on sexual assault prevention and response was arrested on charges of sexual battery over the weekend. According to the Arlington Police Department, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Krusinski groped a woman in a parking lot early Sunday morning. She fought him off when he attempted to grab her again and immediately alerted the police. An anonymous spokesperson for the Air Force confirmed that Krusinski had been dismissed from his post in response to the allegations.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 5/7/2013; Statement of Senator Claire McCaskill 5/7/2013; Washington Post 5/7/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/7/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .