CALCASA has been following sexual assault in the military for months, bringing you information on the newly released film “The Invisible War” and how Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has worked to address controversy regarding military sexual assaults, among other news stories. I was hoping that in light of these stories, we would be able to continue to bring you good news about military reform, prevention programs, and intervention services for survivors. It looks like we have much more work to do.
On Tuesday, a woman testified against Staff Sgt. Luis Walker. The Washington Post writes:
Walker is among 12 instructors at the Lackland base who are facing charges or being investigated. His charges — 28 counts, including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault — are the most serious in the case. He faces up to life in prison and a dishonorable discharge if convicted by a seven-person jury comprised of military personnel.
This case reflects the deep secrecy, silencing, and shaming of victims in the military. Walker used his power to prey upon the vulnerability of new recruits, knowing that they would be conflicted about jeopardizing their new position on the base and future career in the Air Force. The base where these assaults occurred cannot be considered an anomaly. The Washington Post reports:
Lackland is where every American airman reports for basic training — about 35,000 a year. About one in five is female, pushed through eight weeks of basic training by a group of instructors, 90 percent of whom are men.
What I find truly surprising is the way in which mainstream media is covering the assault. The majority of the news outlets are deeming this a “sex scandal”. David Lee wrote a blog about the danger of naming a sexual assault a “sex scandal”.
It seems as though this trend has continued (here are just a few of the many many articles that referred to “sex scandal” in the title):
CBS News: Sergeant charged in Air Force sex scandal a “predator”
LA Times: Air Force sex scandal: Court-martial begins for Texas instructor
Huffington Post: Lackland Air Force Base Rocked By Sex Scandal
I’d love to learn more about how advocates are working with the military – please share your strategies in the comment section!