For those readers who feel that we are picking on the US military too much for its sexual assault and harassment problems, let’s take a look at the Australian Defence Force. It seems, according to a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, that “there is a systemic failure within the military over its treatment of women,” and “highly inadequate policies and practices at the Defence Force academy in dealing with sexual harassment and assaults.”
One attorney, commenting on the latest scandal in which “at least 17 male army officers formed an email ring that circulated footage of members having sex tagged with demeaning commentary about the women,” said that little had changed in 20 years.
“There has been a lot of rhetoric about zero tolerance but the reality is these issues are recurring and deep seated.”
Still sound familiar?
Now to the domestic front. A Louisiana National Guard Sergeant Major, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier in the state’s military force, has been removed from his position because of allegations of sexual assault. An investigative team “concluded that in fact sexual harassment and an abuse of power did occur.”
A Guard spokesman said that “It comes as a shock that any of our leaders would violate our soldiers. They are our most precious resource. … The National Guard is going to do everything it can to protect its men and women. This can not and will not be tolerated in our organization.”
Was this an echo of “zero tolerance?” Sound even more familiar?
As a postscript, and a footnote to our many prior posts about sexual harssment in the military, we quote from army veteran Donna McAleer writing in the Huffington Post: “Unlike the militaries in Australia, Canada, Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, and most of our NATO allies, who no longer allow unit commanders to determine the prosecution of sexual assault cases, American military law requires that the officers directly in command of individuals charged with sexual assault offenses decide how the cases are handled. The result is that only 8 percent of military sexual assault cases are prosecuted and only two percent are convicted. … the Joint Chiefs [have] unanimously supported to keep that present system in place (emphasis added).”