Robert Slattery is a writer living in Western North Carolina. He enjoys music and all sorts of other things.
The Invisible War
Human Rights – “The Invisible War,” an emotional and intense Sundance documentary, reveals a dark secret hiding within the U.S. military: soldier-on-soldier rape (of both men and women). The violations have been called the most “under-reported” story of the generation and the statistics offered in the film are shocking.
Female service members, the documentary reveals, are “more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan than killed by the enemy.” The rate is so high, in fact, that the percentage of sexually assaulted female soldiers is a staggering 30%.
Compounded with the aftermath of sexual assault, these assaults, the documentary shows, are in fact intensified by the military-as-family mindset, worsening the damage done to the victims, adding a “quality of incest” to the embarrassment and trauma.
The film’s information comes from extrapolating data from military statistics and points to an overwhelming problem the U.S. military has faced for some time. To its credit, the military does acknowledge the problem and that measures are being taken to correct this, though the film may suggest the military is not working as hard as it may claim.
Despite reaffirming the prevailing image of the macho, male-dominated culture of the military (which doesn’t seem to be an unearned stereotype), this kind of thing shows not just a lack of respect for female soldiers but for fellow Americans. It brings into question the much touted “defending” of freedom and the belief that the military is capable of governing itself. It is exactly in cases like this that journalism proves itself as valuable a defender of rights as anyone or anything else.
Read more at the L.A. Times.