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Thursday, January 19, 2012

WoW: News from the front

Two pieces of news crossed my laptop screen this morning.

MSNBC is reporting on the law suit brought by fourteen current and former members of the U.S. military on Tuesday which charged that the Pentagon turned a blind eye when they reported being sexually harassed, assaulted and raped by fellow service members while on active duty.

MSNBC reports that it is more likely for a woman serving our country in the Armed Forces to be raped than to be attacked in the line of duty.

They're calling it "The Invisible War". Last year there were 3,191 rapes reported in the military but the Pentagon itself estimates that there were actually a total of over 19,000 rapes.

Only eight percent of these reported rapes were prosecuted with an abysmal 2% conviction rate.

Here's one story of one woman who is breaking the code of silence about this despicable behavior:
Mary Gallagher, a former sergeant in the Air National Guard, says that within weeks of being deployed to an air base outside of Baghdad in 2009 she was brutally assaulted by a fellow sergeant who burst into the ladies' room, pushed her up against the wall, pulled her pants and underwear down and ground his genitals against her, talking the whole time how much he was enjoying it.

"I thought he was going to kill me that night," Gallagher told NBC in an interview. "I felt completely isolated and alone and really scared. Here I was, in the middle of a foreign country in the middle of a war."

When she reported the attack, she says her commander’s only response was to reassign her assailant and tell her "this stuff happens."
If that doesn't make you ill, here's another story:
Rebekah Havrilla, a former Army sergeant who served as the only female member of a bomb squad in eastern Afghanistan, said she was attacked by a colleague at Salermo Forward Operating Base near the Pakistani border on her last day in the country in 2007.

"He pushed me down on the bed and used his body weight to hold me down and proceeded to rape me," she said in an interview. While holding her down with one arm, her fellow U.S. Army sergeant took photographs of her, she said. She was later horrified to discover the photographs had been posted on a pornographic website, she said.
None of the alleged attackers named in the lawsuit was reported to have been convicted. In most cases, the charges were either never pursued or dropped.

In one case, an Army officer who denied one of the alleged sexual assaults was charged with "lying on a sworn statement." In another, an Air Force serviceman who was alleged to have broken into the room of a female coworker at 3 a.m. at Nellis Air Force Base was charged in a court-martial, but on the eve of his trial got off when a a new commander came in and ordered the charges dropped. The alleged rapist was later given an "Airman of the Quarter" award and his accuser transferred to another base.

Anyone got any questions about whether or not the War on Women is real?

Okay, here's the second item to come across my laptop screen.

First, the good news: A global analysis by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization indicate that, after a period of significant decline in the global abortion rate as a whole, researchers found that those numbers had begun to plateau.
"The stall in the abortion rate coincides with a plateau in the level of contraceptive use, which had been increasing in prior years," said Dr. Gilda Sedgh, lead author of the study and senior researcher at the Guttmacher Institute in New York. "Before the abortion rate stalled, it was declining, and contraceptive use was increasing.
Now, the bad news: Unsafe abortions are on the rise across the world. Researchers defined unsafe abortion according to the WHO description when analyzing data. The WHO considers an abortion unsafe when a procedure for terminating pregnancy is performed by a person who is lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards.
The report continues:
While almost all reported abortions were deemed safe in North America and Europe, nearly all abortions (97 percent) in Africa were considered unsafe in 2008. Nearly all abortions were performed under safe conditions in East Asia, but 65 percent were considered unsafe across south central Asia.

Over the past three decades, about 20 percent of all pregnancies around the world have ended in abortion, according to the research.

"What we clearly know is that making abortion less available does not make it performed less often," said Dr. Lauren Streicher, assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "It's just more unsafe. Condemning abortion is a cruel and failed strategy."

Even in the U.S., where abortion is currently legal, Streicher said access can be limited based on someone's insurance plan and where they live.

"Fifty percent of undesired pregnancies are due to failed contraception," said Streicher. "Of those unplanned pregnancies, 50 percent resolve in abortion, so the need for abortion is always going to be there. By criminalizing it, you're just increasing the amount of women who have poor and dangerous outcomes.
I'm waiting for some state to introduce the concept of capital punishment for any woman who has had an abortion. Now, that would be a "cruel and failed strategy" - but when has that stopped the Tea Party fanatics?

Overstating my case? If more Tea Party candidates get elected in November, watch for it in a southern state close to you.

I'm not writing this to be an alarmist. I'm writing to be an informant.

We have a little over 10 months to the next election process, including the election of the next President of the United States.

An informed electorate is comprised of people who will check to be sure where each candidate is on the important issues. I mean, besides employment and the economy.

And, the War on Women may be invisible, but it's real.

Very real.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

I'll tell you the one that scares me the worst--the continuing slug of laws showing up in state legislatures treating miscarriages like "possible attempted fetocides." I honestly think very few men really know how common miscarriage is (It's the last great "shushed" topic among women) and these laws that are attempting to put the hammer on doctors to report miscarriages to law enforcement (at threat of losing their medical licenses) scare the living crap out of me.

What's sad is I predicted 20 years ago this would happen, and everyone looked at me like I was a fatalistic whack job, talking about the "uterine police."

I have had this conversation many times with my Kirksville cop buddy Officer Ray. Officer Ray says the last way in the world he wants to spend his time on the job is cross-examining crying women who just miscarried. The last thing I want to be doing is hotlining over path specimens labled "products of conception."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sorry, Kirke, but I really do believe that, unless we begin an offensive to this attack, that's exactly what you're going to start seeing.

War is hell.

Matthew said...

I agree that we need an informed electorate for the election ten months away And that we need to do all that we can to inform them. So, why don't we inform them via the pulpit and point out the differences between the two parities and candidates (once we have a republican nominee) via that same pulpit. And suggest who would be bettter on that front. Damn the torpedoes and the IRS as well. Are you with me? Why is it that many priests are much more bold on blogs than the pulpit, or should it be that way if we are to inform our own respective electorates who we don't see except for at church and they don't all read blogs?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

It's the IRS, Matthew. It's not worth losing one's tax exempt status. Indeed, the Republicans would love it.

I'd rather use my blog and adult forums and open the church to Democratic organizing activities (all legal with the IRS), than preach from the pulpit.

Turtle with an AX said...
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Turtle with an ax said...
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Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Turtle with an AXE - After careful consideration, I am not allowing your two quotes.

I am giving you fair warning.

I do not like violent imagery used by the Right. I abhor it when it comes from the Left.

Do it again and I still won't publish your quote and give you a second warning.

Third strike and you're out. I will block you if you use that kind of violent imagery.

Do we understand one another, my sister?