According to recent statistics, one in every three women in the U.S. military have been sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers during their service. Even worse, in 2007, there were 2,212 reports of military sexual assault, yet only 181 went to trial. That’s astounding, without even taking into account that 80 percent of rapes go unreported. Of these few trials, the most common punishment for a guilty sentence was a reduction in rank or pay. Our military is letting convicted rapists walk free with punishments suitable for a misdemeanor, and honoring them as American heroes when they return home. Furthermore, in 2006, Congress had to mandate that the Pentagon keep track of these incidents, as they were previously being swept under the rug.
Why am I choosing to bring this particular issue to the attention of The Michigan Daily? Students of the University have the ability and, I believe, the responsibility to amend this travesty. We have a strong ROTC presence on campus. Future members of our military: When you find evidence of this injustice, stand up against it. Students who wish to pursue careers in government and public policy also shouldn’t ignore this illegal activity. Most of the soldiers who choose to serve our country truly intend to defend our hard-earned freedoms and those of our allies. However, it’s time for all of us to take a stand for American women’s freedom.
The battle for true gender equality needs to be waged on the home front in order to be effective in our military overseas. We can all participate in this fight. Stop objectifying fellow human beings and stand up to those who do. When someone claims to be a victim of sexual assault, believe her story and stand up for her. Reconsider those sexist slurs, even if they seem funny. Eventually, they become entrenched in our society. We’re a nation that is meant to serve as a beacon of equality and justice. It’s time we came through with this promise for some of our bravest citizens.