by David Mendez
The Australian Army is done putting up with soldiers treating women terribly.
According to the BBC, the Australian Army has recently launched an investigation into allegations that emails containing explicit and derogatory material have been circulating for more than three years:
Although details of the emails have not been disclosed, they have been described as "highly inappropriate" and demeaning about female staff members.
Three people have been suspended and 14 are under investigation, officials say.
This comes after a government report last year detailed several incidents of abuse in the military.
Army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison said this inquiry revolves around the production and distribution of "highly inappropriate" material over the last three years.
He described the emails - comprising text and images - as "explicit, derogatory, demeaning and repugnant".
"I view the allegations that are being made in the gravest light," he said, adding that it was worse than the military sex scandal which rocked the country in 2011.
Morrison isn't paying simple lip-service either, making this video to show his disapproval:
He appears to be done with allowing his soldiers to continue with these shenanigains — and all this over emails.
What strikes me is how deadly serious these allegations have been taken — and how it contrasts with the way sexual assault has been treated in our military.
For instance, let's look at Rolling Stone's "The Rape of Petty Officer Blumer," which looked at a soldier whose promising career was ruined as a result of a rape, a cover-up and insinuations that she was at fault:
Blumer, a standout sailor with an unblemished record, was sure she could clear things up. She wrote a statement in the crowded office that described her suspicions about what had actually occurred, and her urgent need for medical attention. Then she obediently left the room so her superiors could discuss the matter. When she was allowed in a few minutes later, Blumer was told that she would be taken to the hospital — but with orders only for a toxicology report, to see if there really were date-rape drugs in her system. "Whether you get a rape kit is up to you," the female JAG prosecutor cautiously told Blumer, who struggled to make sense of what was happening: The military she'd trusted to care for her wasn't interested in caring for her at all. She was even more shaken by the JAG's jarring question later on: "Did you inflict your injuries yourself?"
The implication floored Blumer. "How could anyone even think that I would do that to myself?" she says now. It was Blumer's first glimpse of a hidden side of military culture, in which rapes, and the sweeping aside of rapes, happen with disturbing regularity. And it was her first sense of what lay in store after coming forward as a military rape victim: that she would be treated with suspicion by those charged with helping her, penalized by command and ostracized by her unit. "Once my assault happened," Blumer says, "my whole future disappeared."
The thing is, we appear to be failing those who are risking their lives to protect us: the most recent attempt at fixing a broken system was blocked when the chairman of the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, removed a measure proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that would have placed the decision of which sexual assault cases to try in the hands of military prosecutors. Instead, the decision would be made by commanders — and any cases they decline to prosecute will be pushed higher up the chain of command, as the military appears to prefer.
It appears that this is only a cosmetic addition to the current, broken system, rather than a significant structural change as the situation appears to demand:
According to the Defense Department, an estimated 26,000 men and women in the military were subject to some level of unwanted sexual contact in 2012, an increase of about 40 percent over two years. The data suggest that many of the allegations involved rape, aggravated sexual assault or nonconsensual sodomy. Only 3,374 incidents were reported, and a mere 302 of the 2,558 incidents pursued by victims were actually prosecuted.
Morrison said, "the standard you walk by is the standard you accept" — apparently, allowing sexual predators to roam the barracks is an acceptable standard in America's military.