17 current and former members of the U.S. military have filed a lawsuit charging the Defense Department of ignoring reports of rape and sexual assault within the military. 15 women, and 2 men say the Pentagon’s failure to investigate the reports of abuse ultimately allowed the rapes and sexual harassment to continue. Many of these abuses occurred overseas in Iraq.
Specifically, the suit claims that current Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Secretary Donald’s Rumsfeld allowed a military dynamic in which rape and sexual abuse was common by high-ranking military members, and victims were discouraged from reporting these crimes. In fact, the victims say they felt they had to keep quiet.
One woman says she was raped in 2006 by her superior, and was later told to respect his authority because he outranked her. She was also forced to work with him for two years after the rape. This is just one of many deeply disturbing and painful stories the lawsuit contains.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages, although Keith Rohman, an attorney who is on the case says the main purpose of the suit is to allow the victim’s to tell their stories. They have been ignored long enough and deserve justice.
It is scary enough to be in a foreign country; in the middle of a war, but to experience this type of betrayal by your own colleagues placed the victims in a position of complete isolation and despair. This lawsuit will undoubtedly highlight the resilience of the servicemen and women who continued to perform their military duties and put their country first, even in the face of these deeply insulting and often traumatizing sexual acts forced on them.