Wednesday, April 25, 2012

US Armed Forces and Women * 78

American women constitute 18% of US personnel in the armed forces. This does look nice, but what it hides is significant. The matter reached a head and at a recent press conference Leon Panetta, the secretary of Defense brought out the fact that he was aware that there have been cases of rape and molestation of women in the US armed forces. He also opined that perhaps because of this stigma more women are not joining the armed forces. What is the fact? Many women who have served earlier in the armed forces have testified that they have been raped. But they also said that the army put a lid on these rape cases and in some cases the matter was allowed to die down. One of the survivors Barbara Grove who served at Cherry Point in the mid nineteen fifties gave startling information. She said two women were raped and one hung herself from the ceiling. Though the incident is over 50 years old I suppose this is still prevalent in the US armed forces.
Last year more than 3000 women reported to their superiors that they had been sexually assaulted while on duty. Theoretically women in the US army are barred from active combat duties. This is a good thing as it recognizes the infirmity and biological difference in women. A few women in the combat zone during the Iraq war were captured by Iraqi troops and systematically raped. That is one of the reasons the US army women are not used ina combat role. The debate of women in the Armed forces is an ongoing one. I suppose women can take part in all activities except as soldiers in actual battle conditions. The US has now an all volunteer force. May be it will be a good idea to have a selective draft in force. To try and fill the ranks of the army with women to over come shortages in manpower is fraught with grave consequences. Thus what ever happens, rape and sex is not going to go away in American armed forces, for that matter in any armed force in the world