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The Green Light to Rape: What Happens When we Fail to Prosecute the Rapist

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The difference between what happens to a rapist and a rape victim has shocked the senses of the American public since US Congressional Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) began in 2011 sharing the personal accounts of military rape victims to other members of the House of Representatives in a weekly address to the House. 

I do not like the term "Military Sexual Trauma." Rape is a horrible and gut-wrenching event that destabilizes the family and the community and shocks the victim. Military Sexual Trauma is a watered-down term for a horrendous human rights violation that is too often dismissed by military legal authorities. 

Rape shocks the victim. A victim in shock is given several psychiatric labels that may threaten the victim's perceived job readiness. Military and Department of Veteran's Affairs doctors will bend over backwards to label what was once called Rape Trauma Syndrome and is now considered a form of or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as Bipolar or Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a form of psychiatrically sanctioned victim-blaming and a way of denying benefits to veterans that were traumatized by rape. 

Military rape was sanctioned by the Department of Defense when its legal defense against the 2011 lawsuit Cioca v. Rumsfeld indicated that the lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that military rape was an "Incident of Service."

We accept war because war is a tool that is used in support of global stability. Combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has historically been treated as an incident of service because combat is part of the job of military personnel. When we treat military rape as an "Incident of Service" then we sanction rape. 

"We the people" may want to ask ourselves what happens when we sanction rape. When most people report a rape they are met with a revealing question. Victims who   report their rape are almost always asked whether or not they "said no?"

"No" is implied and should not be presumed. 

"Did you say no?" ignores the fact that a human body should not be violated for any reason. When it comes to touching a person in any way, no is implied. If you have to "say no" to violence while it is happening to you then there is a linguistic presumption that without the victim having said no, the rapist has unfettered jurisdiction. 

A rapist is a violent criminal but we place a burden on the victim that is unequal to the burden placed on the rapist. If we fail to change our paradigm, then we accept the paradigm that we have.

If we treat the human body as sacrosanct and untouchable, then we can prosecute rape as a violent crime. The burden needs to be on the violator -- not the violated -- lest we render the law meaningless. 

After military rape, the victim is often in a state of shock. The victim may miss muster or develop a behavior problem that is related to having been violated. There is little structural support in an environment that emphasizes discipline without the benefit of introspection. Rape victims are likely to be further punished rather than helped for symptoms of rape trauma. 

The behavior of the rapist does not change because for a rapist an act of rape is business as usual. The rapist often earns his next promotion and is treated like a victim of reporting if the victim of violence reports the crime. Rape is rendered a crime only in legal terms, but not a crime that can be effectively prosecuted. 

When a rapist transcends rape charges unscathed, "We the people" have a federally paid rapist who has the green light to continue raping within and beyond the ranks. This rapist may rape military members, people within the community, and even children. This federally paid rapist might live in your community. 

This rapist can rape your children and get a paycheck or a retirement check while doing it. "We the people" may want to ask ourselves if we want to pay rapists with federal funds. 

Military commands often send rape victims to the medical department for mental health counseling. That counseling can be a hidden foe. Sometimes the military mental health community is merely a tool for military commands to dispose of victims and get back to business. 

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Jennifer McClendon is a Navy Veteran, a wife, and the mother of four children. She works as an adjunct history, humanities, and ethics teacher and a full time historian. She writes on ethical issues, historical events, (more...)

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The Green Light to Rape: What Happens When we Fail to Prosecute the Rapist

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