Debate Magazine

One-Third Of Women Assaulted By A Partner

Posted on the 28 June 2013 by Doggone

The next time you hear the Pro-rape Pro-Violence Anti-Women Republicans spouting some kind of factually inaccurate nonsense about women, about violence, and especially about rape and reproduction, or how women don't want or need equal pay for equal wor... from the New York Times:

One-Third of Women Assaulted by a Partner, Global Report Says

In the first major global review of violence against women, a report released Thursday found that 30 percent of women reported having been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner. The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, called it “a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” and other experts said screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care. Among the findings: 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by a partner. Researchers used a broad definition of domestic violence, and in cases where country data was incomplete, estimates were used to fill in the gaps. The report also examined sexual violence against women by someone other than a partner and found about 7 percent of women had been victims. The report was based on studies from 1983 to 2010.

In case any conservatives reading this blog think that referring to the GOP as the pro-rape party and the pro-violence party is unfair, I suggest you reconsider your position.  This is the party that doesn't want to punish the bully who beats up or otherwise torments other kids in school; this is the party that did not want to renew the violence against women act, this is the party that tried to redefine rape so that it no longer included statutory rape of children, or rape by drugging or otherwise incapacitating someone, or where there was intimidation of violence but not actual violence. This is the party that says if you are unconscious, you didn't say no, and therefore rape is not rape. This is the party that has tried to say, including during congressional hearings, that both men and women in our military should expect to get raped, and not complain about it or expect better treatment, because that is just normal male hormones, a dismissal of responsibility because 'boys will be boys'. This is the ideology, the mind set, the politics expressed by the right wing Rupert Murdoch media empire, in this instance in the Wall Street Journal:

Gen. Helms and the Senator's 'Hold'

An Air Force commander exercised her discretion in a sexual-assault case. Now her career is being blocked by Sen. Claire McCaskill. Why?

    By James Taranto
Lt. Gen. Susan Helms is a pioneering woman who finds her career stalled because of a war on men—a political campaign against sexual assault in the military that shows signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality.
...At issue is the general's decision in February 2012 to grant clemency to an officer under her command. Capt. Matthew Herrera had been convicted by a court-martial of aggravated sexual assault. Ms. McCaskill said earlier this month that the clemency decision "sent a damaging message to survivors of sexual assault who are seeking justice in the military justice system."
To describe the accuser in the Herrera case as a "survivor" is more than a little histrionic. The trial was a he-said/she-said dispute between Capt. Herrera and a female second lieutenant about a drunken October 2009 sexual advance in the back seat of a moving car. The accuser testified that she fell asleep, then awoke to find her pants undone and Capt. Herrera touching her genitals. He testified that she was awake, undid her own pants, and responded to his touching by resting her head on his shoulder.

Taranto goes on to describe the second sexual assault charge against Herrera. Here is where the real problem comes in with Taranto's assessment of the war on men and male sexuality:

It's fair to say that Capt. Herrera seems to have a tendency toward sexual recklessness. Perhaps that makes him unsuitable to serve as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. But his accusers acted recklessly too. The presumption that reckless men are criminals while reckless women are victims makes a mockery of any notion that the sexes are equal.

I dispute the statement here that the victims of these assaults were reckless; this is blaming the victim, and this is part of the problem in the military, and from the right wing generally.  Women are not responsible for being raped by where they go, how they dress, or trusting someone who turns out not to be trustworthy.  There is NO excuse for coercion or involuntary sexual acts. This mistaken assumption in blaming the victims while excusing the rapist can come from women as well as men, as we saw in the Rolling Stone interview with tennis star Serena Williams.  To her credit, Williams subsequently apologized to that rape victim and her family.
As we see in this Wall Street Journal article from May about the problem with sexual assault in the military, commanding officers over-ruling the decisions of military tribunals is part of the problem. The commanding officer in the case at issue was exonerated in a second claim of assault where another woman went with him into his bedroom, but did not consent to sex. The military found that by the female staff sgt. agreeing to go into his room, she agreed to have sex. The two are not the same, entering a bedroom is NOT agreeing to have sex. If there was a military court finding that should have been overturned, it should have been the second case. A woman can legally and morally say NO to sex at any point, including changing her mind DURING sex, and should not be coerced against her will at ANY point to continue sexual activity, including touching of her body. Rape is a crime not only of violence, but of domination by taking away the victim's autonomy over their own body in a sexual manner. That makes anyone who has such domination asserted over them legitimately a real victim.
The military report in May indicated, in another New York Times piece:

Sexual Assaults in Military Raise Alarm in Washington
Published: May 7, 2013
WASHINGTON — The problem of sexual assault in the military leapt to the forefront in Washington on Tuesday as the Pentagon released a survey estimating that 26,000 people in the armed forces were sexually assaulted last year, up from 19,000 in 2010, and an angry President Obama and Congress demanded action.
The study, based on a confidential survey sent to 108,000 active-duty service members, was released two days after the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programs for the Air Force was arrested and charged with sexual battery for grabbing a woman’s breasts and buttocks in an Arlington, Va., parking lot.
At a White House news conference, Mr. Obama expressed exasperation with the Pentagon’s attempts to bring sexual assault under control. “The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this,” Mr. Obama said in answer to a question about the survey. “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.”  The president said he had ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “to step up our game exponentially” to prevent sex crimes and said he wanted military victims of sexual assault to know that “I’ve got their backs.” In a separate report made public on Tuesday, the military recorded 3,374 sexual assault reports last year, up from 3,192 in 2011, suggesting that many victims continue not to report the crimes for fear of retribution or a lack of justice under the department’s system for prosecution.

Now, I have not served in the military, but it was my understanding that part of what those who do serve swear to do in upholding the constitution was that part about the President being the commander in chief, an following orders.  It appears to me from the President's statements that he wants a change in the more permissive rape culture of the military, including more support of the victims.
THAT would seem to be the same position taken in this situation by Senator Clare McCaskill in her criticism of the officer in question being promoted to a higher leadership position, regardless of her other very considerable accomplishments. That is not a war on men, that is an attempt to bring a permissive pattern of failed justice into conformity with good military order.  Nor do I see this as an assault on the officer in question for his masculinity, nor is it an assault on the rights of the accused -- the right so often likes to claim THEY are the victims when they are not, be it for being male, or white, or in some other way part of a group which has been privileged rather than treated unequally.

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