Sexual assault in the United States military: Here are three instances that shook the armed force

Namrata Tripathi
Sexual assault in the United States military: Here are three instances that shook the armed force

The recent Marine Corps nude pictures scandal has once again brought the United States military's long history of problems associated with sexual assault to the fore. The US Marine Corps on Sunday launched an investigation into the suspected circulation of nude pictures of female members by some of the marines on Facebook.

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Some marines reportedly distributed pictures of their female colleagues among military personnel and veterans through a closed social media network with about 30,000 members, which promoted sexual violence, according to the Marine Corps Times, an independent newspaper which specialises on the Corps.  The paper published an internal Marine Corps communications document describing the network as once which solicited nude photos of female service members, some of whom had their name, rank and duty station listed. 

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A spokesperson for Marine Corps told the newspaper that military officials are not yet certain exactly how many military personnel could be involved in the scandal.

According to the annual report released by Pentagon in 2016, the US military received around 6,000 reports of sexual assault in 2015, similar to 2014. Reports state that sexual crimes in the military are however still not fully reported. 

A report in 2011 stated that women in the US military are more likely to be raped by fellow soldiers than they are to be killed in combat. It states that at least 25 percent of US military women have been sexually assaulted and up to 80 percent of them have been sexually harassed.

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Here are three instances of sexual assault which rocked the US military:

2011 United States Air Force Training sexual assault scandal

The 2011 US Air Force Basic Training scandal came to light in the month of June that year, when a young female trainee came forward and accused her male instructor of assaulting her. The accused staff Sgt. Luis Walker convicted for rape charges was court-marshaled and was sentenced to 20 years of jail. The scandal then grew as 43 female trainees came forward and accused their male instructors of sexual assault during and after their basic military training beginning in 2009. 

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Reports state that 17 of the male instructors were accused of offences ranging from solicitation of improper relationships to rape, and 35 instructors were removed from their posts pending an investigation. Around nine of the accused instructors belonged to the 331st Training Squadron, and squadron commander Lt. Col. Mike Paquette was removed from command in June 2012 because of the problems in his unit. In August 2012 Col. Glenn Palmer, commander of the 737th Training Group, was also removed from his position over the sexual assault scandal.

2003 United States Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal

The 2003 US Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal began with an anonymous email on January 2, 2013 addressed to the secretary of the Air Force, the chief of staff of the Air Force, Senator Wayne Allard, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, other US congressmen, and media representatives. The mail constituted of complaints from female cadets of there being a significant sexual assault problem at the United States Air Force Academy that had been ignored by the Academy's authorities.

The email caused a commotion which led the Air Force secretary to direct the general counsel of the US Air Force to formulate a high-level working group to review cadet complaints concerning the Academy's program of deterrence and response to sexual assault. The secretary also asked the group to review allegations of sexual assault reported from January 1993 through December 2002.

It was found out that around 12 percent of women who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2003 reported being a victim of rape or attempted rape while they were with the academy. Out of the 659 women who were enrolled at the Academy at the time, 70 percent of the  women at the academy alleged they had been the victims of sexual harassment, and 22 percent of them said they experienced "pressure for sexual favors."

The Aberdeen sexual assault scandal

The Aberdeen Scandal occurred in 1996 at the Army Ordnance Center and Schools on Aberdeen Proving Ground, a US Army base in Maryland, where multiple sexual assault cases emerged of young women being sexually harassed at the academy.

After extensive media coverage of the case, twelve drill instructors were charged with sex crimes, where four were sentenced to prison and eight others were discharged or received non-judicial punishment. Reports state that letters of reprimand were issued to Aberdeen's then commanding general and three other senior officials.

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