Shades of Blue

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hard choices for young women stationed in the Middle East -- Dehydration and death OR rape by their fellow soldiers

Thanks to the topnotch journalists at Truthout for their report on the following atrocity of military management.

Picture this. You're a young woman right out of high school. You've joined the military and now you're stationed in the Middle East. Now you might not be on the front lines in terms of getting shot at by Iraqi insurgents but don't let your guard down. You're still very much in danger of getting raped by the same guys who came over on the transports with you-- your fellow American soldiers.

That's right. Our young women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are often MORE in danger from the guys stationed with them than the guys they are supposed to be there to defeat.

How's that you say? Well, as it turns out the military doesn't seem to care about the women who serve or their safety. The women's latrines are outside and away from the barracks so when a woman has to, as they used to say, water the daisies, she takes her life and physical safety into her hands to do so. So many women are getting raped while trying to take care of their natural needs at night that, according to Lt. Col. Janic Karpinski testifying in New York, several young women have died due to dehydration. In fear of losing their lives and/or being raped they refuse to drink liquids late into the afternoon or at night. In this way they hoped to avoid having to venture into the dangerous areas between their baracks and latrines. The result in 120 degree temperatures was predictable and tragic. They died of deydration in their sleep.

On top of this horrendous fact, Karpinski says that military leaders are covering up the causes of these young girls' deaths.

Would you think that if the people in charge knew that young women were being raped and beaten or dying in their sleep to avoid being raped and beaten that someone in charge would do something? Think again.

Let's see, They give those who've been raped an 800 number that rings into the States and is never answered by a human, only a machine. There is no military justice focused on the rapers. And no one seems to have even considered having women's latrines close enough to the barracks (maybe even inside for a novel, sort-of modern touch) so that young women don't have to choose between their bodies or their lives.

I could go on and on but I won't. Instead let me refer you to the Truthout article itself. The reality is much harsher than any anger I could express.

I do have two questions. What's going to happen when the rapers return home? Are we looking at a segment of this generation that thinks its okay to rape and assault young women in their own neighborhoods and cities? And we won't know who they are because, ahem, no one ever thought it important enough to catch and prosecute these guys.

And what about the women who've been exposed to this institutionalized form of abuse? How do they fit back into society? Even if they haven't been raped, how can they ever trust that American society will protect them? It didn't in Iraq so why should it in St. Louis or Chesterfield or Arnold? When they were protecting us, the military was hanging them out to be raped.

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