Representative Jane Harman has a disturbing post up at Huffington (which is also an LA Times op-ed) discussing the frequency of rape in the military - and particularly the extent that woman soldiers are sexually assaulted. Everyone knows I'm a crime data skeptic. Still, I was particularly troubled by some Department of Defense stats she cites for 2007. Here's a snapshot:
Only 181 out of 2,212 subjects investigated for sexual assault in 2007, including 1,259 reports of rape, were referred to courts-martial.... Another 218 were handled via nonpunitive administrative action or discharge, and 201 subjects were disciplined through "nonjudicial punishment," which means they may have been confined to quarters, assigned extra duty or received a similar slap on the wrist. In nearly half of the cases investigated, the chain of command took no action; more than a third of the time, that was because of "insufficient evidence." This is in stark contrast to the civilian trend of prosecuting sexual assault. In California, for example, 44% of reported rapes result in arrests, and 64% of those who are arrested are prosecuted, according to the California Department of Justice.
The Huffington Post's provocative homepage teaser for the post - women in the military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire - turns out to be a wild understatement. For whatever reasons - everything from institutional culture around gender and sex to a healthy does of troop omerta - the military seems unable to safely support a co-ed force. Moreover, if Harman's analysis is anything close to right, we have a whole other cohort of injured soldiers coming home - and one that I fear nobody in Washington, at the VA, or pretty much anywhere else, is taking seriously.