Sgt. Rebecca Havrilla, the lone female member of a bomb squad in eastern Afghanistan, was allegedly raped days before she was supposed to go back to the United States.
"The rape," she said, "was the 'ironic icing on the cake.'"
What started in basic training in January of 2004 with sexual jokes, innuendoes and simulated sexual play escalated to groping, slapping, harassment and ultimately ended with a rape before she left Afghanistan in September 2009, she said.
Havrilla's story gets worse before it gets better: she ran into her alleged rapist at a shop on Fort Leonard Wood; says she was told by a military chaplain that "it must have been God's will for her to be raped"; and says a friend found pictures of the attack on a pornography website.
Havrilla finally reported her case only to have it dismissed by her military commanders. On Wednesday, however, Havrilla is testifying in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel and share her story.
Havrilla's story is one of many and the statistics are grim: an estimated 19,000 service members experience sexual assault a year, according to the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO). Eighty percent of military sexual assaults have gone unreported. In 2011, a mere 3,192 cases were reported but only 1,516 of those cases were considered actionable.
Prosecution rates are even lower: a reported 8 percent of cases actually went to trial, and of those, many accused sex offenders walked free, some even returning to the military. The Department of Defense also does not maintain a military sex offender registry.
Read the rest here.
To say that I was astonished by such an utterly insensitive and boorish response as the chaplain made to a woman who had been raped is to understate badly. It is yet one more reflection of the religious tendency to devalue women, even those who are risking their lives in serving their country. If there is anything good about this business at all, it is that New York Senator Kirsten Gillabrand is heading up the investigation into these assaults, and she is clearly taking a most serious attitude toward it.
This also relates powerfully to A|N's Ruth Anthony-Gardner's piece, "Teaching men not to rape". It is past time that the practice of blaming the victims was abolished and that men are more fully held accountable for their brutish behavior. Better, that they understand LONG BEFORE they offend that these behaviors are in no way acceptable.