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General News    H1'ed 10/27/09

Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within

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Journalists Pascale Bourgaux and Mercedes Gallego in their trips to Iraq as war correspondents were stunned to hear from military women in Iraq that they should be very careful working in military units due to sexual assault and rape.

When they left Iraq they decided to investigate the issue of rape in the U.S. military. In 2007, they filmed the stories of four military women who had been raped and made a documentary, "Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within." The documentary was shown for the first time in the United States on October 26 at the New York Independent Film Festival.

Tina Priest was raped in Iraq and then found dead of a gunshot in her dormitory room. The U.S. Army claims Tina committed suicide 11 days after she was raped. The mother and sister of Tina Priest don't believe Tina committed suicide. The documentary captures remarkable interactions with them and military officers from Fort Hood who arrive at their doorstep. Tina's rapist was never prosecuted.

Jessica Kenyon was raped twice during her one year career in the US Army, once in basic training and once in Korea. She is now a counselor (http://www.militarysexualtrauma.org) for other veterans who have been rapedŚwomen and men. Jessica's rapists were never prosecuted.

Suzanne Swift was raped repeatedly by her squad leader while they were in Iraq. She was court-martialed for refusing to go back to Iraq with the unit in which the rapist still served. The rapist was never prosecuted, returned to Iraq as a private security contractor and later fired from a position with a law enforcement agency in the Seattle area. Suzanne is now out of the military and in college.

Stephanie (last name not disclosed), was raped at Fort Lewis, Washington. Like the majority of women who have been raped in the military, she never reported it as she thought no one would believe her as the rapist was a senior officer. Stephanie and her husband both served in Iraq. Her husband committed suicide after his return from Iraq. Stephanie speaks frequently on the issue of military suicides.

The 29 minute documentary "Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within" has been shown in Europe. One day after the screening in the New York Independent Film Festival, onOctober 27, 2009, clips of the documentary were shown on Democracy Now as a part of an interview with director Pascal Bourgaux.

We hope the film production company will make the documentary available by DVD or on their website.

In a related event, Veterans for Peace launched a Military Rape Awareness campaign in early October, 2009 with a press conference at the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square, New York City. Violence against women activist Eve Ensler and military rape survivor Sandra Lee spoke of their traumas from rape.


Note to the Editors: The video statement by Staff Sgt. Sandra Le e is really powerful (Elaine Brower made the video):


Veterans for Peace suggests that a warning to women about rape in the military be placed on recruiting station doors. Bumper stickers that state "Warning: 1 in 3 women are Raped in the Military" are available from Veterans for Peace.

 

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Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand (more...)
 
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