The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Sexual harassment in the military must end

Sexual harassment exists in the military. Every day, men and women are silenced because they believe that they cannot speak out. Those who protect our country should be considered heroes. Unfortunately, however, no establishment is perfect. People in the military have to live in tight quarters in isolated locations all across the globe. Emotions run high. Tension, stress, or boredom can all cause harassment.

The government has tried to create laws to stop sexual harassment, but they have not done enough. Since servicemen and servicewomen are stationed in other countries, it is hard to tell if the changes to stop sexual harassment have worked. Awareness needs to be raised and punishments for the offenders need to be implemented.

In 2005, the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military was created. Their job, according to their web site, is to “conduct an examination of matters relating to sexual assault by members or against members of the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Unfortunately, even with the protection of the task force, people who are abused still feel they cannot speak out. The New York Times reported on Captain Margaret H. White, who had a relationship with a warrant officer. The warrant officer then started to follow her around. He forced her to have sex with him. Yet she still felt that she could not speak up because it was not the biggest tragedy occurring.

“You’re in the middle of a war zone,” Captain White said to The New York Times. “So it’s kind of like that one little thing is nothing compared with ‘there is an I.E.D. [Improvised explosive device] that went off in this convoy today and three people were injured.'”

According to MSNBC, in a 2008 Pentagon survey, 33 percent of women and 6 percent of men said they were sexually harassed, but most cases are not reported. According to the Pentagon, only 10 percent of sexual harassment cases in the military were reported.

Even when reports are filed, the wrong person can be blamed. When Sergeant Tracey R. Beck filed a sexual harassment suit, she ended up being the one let go from the army. Even though she did nothing wrong.

In an interview with The New York Times, Beck claims that if she had “kept her mouth shut” then she would still be in Iraq, and would not be sitting in her parents’ house.

Others have similar problems. No one wants to be wrongly accused. Men in the military who are sexually assaulted worry that their sexual orientation and toughness will be questioned.

Although it may seem like these assaults take place far away and in a land of destruction, sexual harassment in the military still affects people back home. Every man and woman in the military is someone’s mother, father, brother, or sister. They are our best friends and former teammates.

People in the military go through so much stress and hardship already. They are faced with bombs, death, and potential psychological damage. Many come home from battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Soldiers put their life on the line every day, and their lives can change drastically in an instant. The last thing they need is sexual harassment. If there were more awareness about this issue, maybe something could be done.

Guilford’s campus as a whole tends not to support war, due to the Quaker values that are instilled here. That does not mean that students do not know people who are involved in the military. Students need to be aware of what is happening to the men and women fighting for freedom – the men and women who are allowing students to feel safe as they walk to class each day.

Sexual harassment in the military is very real and very wrong. Something needs to change, and change fast. If awareness was raised and prevention programs were created, the silence could be broken.

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