Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), one of the most outspoken advocates of military sexual assault victims in congress, introduced the amendment. Its passing will result in $65 million allocated to the cause of identifying victims who were dismissed after illegitimate psychological evaluations and further reviewing their records of discharge. Speier's amendment passed by voice vote, along with another amendment to the appropriations bill that sets aside $10 million in order to further train the military's criminal investigators. Both amendments seek to address the problems recently raised by military sexual assault victims that pertain to the conflicting interests that exist when reporting sexual assault crimes within the military chain of command.
According to a recent investigative report, victims who report sexual assaults to their commanders are often subject to biased psychological evaluations that can likely result in their discharge from the military. This focus on mental health cases is an important first step in addressing the epidemic of military sexual assault. "Mental-health diagnoses are rampantly misused to administratively discharge or retaliate against survivors of sexual assault," Rep. Speier emphasized yesterday. "These dismissals are like scarlet letters, pinned where medals should be."
Media Resources: Houston Chronicle 7/24/13; Feminist Newswire 4/17/13; Military Times 7/24/13; San Antonio Express-News 7/25/13; San Francisco Chronicle 7/24/13
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .