Rape Charges Continue to Unfold at Air Force Academy; Pentagon Criticized for Disbanding Sexual Assault Committee
With widespread reports of sexual assault against female cadets continuing to surface at a Colorado Air Force Academy, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has come under fire for disbanding a panel that addressed sexual assault throughout the military. In February 2002, Rumsfeld allowed the charter on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) to expire after anti-feminist reactionary groups claimed that the panel was fostering “radical feminism” and was no longer needed because “women had been fully integrated into the military,” the New York Times reported.
A recent rash of reports that officials at the Colorado Springs Air Force Academy were allegedly punishing women cadets who reported sexual assaults by fellow students is just one example of widespread problems with sexual harassment and abuse for women in the military. In 1995, more than one in three women had been exposed to “unwelcome deliberate physical contact of a sexual nature,” and would hesitate to report incidents for fear of punishment, according to a study by the General Accounting Office of the US Congress as reported in the Times. More than 70 to 80 percent of women at military academies had experienced recurrent sexual harrasment, the same study showed. The DACOWITS allowed women to address issues of sexual abuse and harassment in private and helped them to take action.
“Every female cadet gets labeled in the first year,” one female Air Force Academy cadet who chose to remain anonymous for fear of retribution told the Washington Post. “You’re either a slut or a prude. If you date anybody, you’re automatically a slut, and the other guys think you’re fair game. If a woman has a problem, everybody knows you’d better not report it, because the commandant’s office will side with the guys.”
There have been 96 reports of sexual assault to the Academy’s rape hotline since 1996; only 20 cases have been formally investigated, eight cadets have been dismissed, and no cadets have been court-martialed for assault. In addition, high-ranking officials have been accused; one victim recently reported that she had been assaulted by a colonel, according to the Times. Meanwhile, a 13-year-old participant in a sports camp on the academy grounds reported that she was assaulted by a 22-year-old cadet, the Times reported.
Media Resources: New York Times 3/2/03; Washington Post 2/28/03; Associated Press 3/2/03
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .