Wednesday, May 29, 2013

STOP sexual assault in the military!

There is a growing epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the U.S. military, perpetrated against both women and men with almost complete impunity. And a large part of the problem is the “fox guarding the hen house” mentality of male military leaders. Such as:

- Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, former head of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program, who was arrested and charged with sexual battery after drunkenly groping a female victim in a parking lot,
- Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin who overturned a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case and then transferred the rapist to an Air Force base where family members of the victim live,
- A trainer of train new recruits at West Point who is being investigated for making secret videos of female cadets.

With this scourge reaching epidemic proportions – estimated at 26,000 sexual assaults in 2012, more than 71 per day – the time for “studies” and “discussion” within the military ranks is over. It’s time for a new strategy, and the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act, H.R. 1593 is a good beginning.

This act of Congress will take the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the normal military chain of command and place jurisdiction in an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office made up of military and civilian experts.

Making experts outside the military chain of command responsible for defending and protecting our military personnel is critical to addressing and ending this horrendous situation. That’s because, under the current military justice system, rape and assault victims are further victimized when they speak out and report their abuse.

Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine officer who served from 1999 to 2004, is executive director and co-founder of Service Women’s Action Network. SWAN works to eliminate discrimination, harassment and assault from military culture, and to improve veterans’ benefits for those who have been assaulted. She told a Senate hearing in March, 2013, “During my five years as a Marine officer, I experienced daily discrimination and sexual harassment. I was exposed to a culture rife with sexism, rape jokes, pornography and widespread commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls, both in the United States and overseas.”

And when she courageously filed a career-ending complaint against a fellow officer, she “lived in fear of retaliation and violence from both the offender and my own chain of command, and then watched in horror as the offender was not only promoted but also given command of my company.”

Obviously the real strategy for dealing with sexual assault in the military has been to silence victims through fear of retaliation or “blame the victim” as usual. So it’s time to give the tens of thousands of victims a chance for a fair hearing and the tens of thousands of rapists the punishment they deserve through the STOP act.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I guess it isn’t just the Taliban who want to keep Afghani women under strict male control. Turns out there are many among their elected legislators that feel the same way. How can we tell? Because last week, conservative religious lawmakers blocked passage of The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The law has already been in effect since 2009 but only by presidential decree. So lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wanted to codify it by parliamentary vote to prevent a future president from just cancelling it to please hard-liners. But the “hard-liners” seem to be legislators protesting the Law, saying it is anti-Islamic and will undermine men’s authority and encourage women to have sex outside of marriage.

What could be in a law that would make Afghani legislators so outraged? Well, the Law “criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and bans ‘baad,’ the traditional practice of exchanging girls and women to settle disputes.” WHAT! You mean Afghani men won’t be allowed to marry 10-year old virgins or force young women to marry 60-year old men? And you can’t be serious that they won’t be able to keep the peace between belligerent men by throwing a daughter or niece into the deal.

But one of the biggest sticking points with legislators (some of them women, actually) is the fact that the Law makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery. WHAT! You mean a man could be jailed just for beating his disobedient wife even if she’s not permanently harmed? And if rape victims aren’t prosecuted for adultery, that can only lead to social chaos! Because women will, of course, freely engage in extramarital sex and just claim rape if they’re caught.

It takes some pretty twisted logic to claim that letting girls grow up before their forced to marry and treating sexual assault victims like, well, victims will lead to social chaos. I guess it depends on your definition of “chaos.”

(1) Kay Johnson, The Associated Press, in The Ledger, May 19, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

A “virginity test” to protest?

A “virginity test” to protest? Women have endured a great deal to speak up for themselves and demand fair and equal treatment around the world. And right now there is a ruthless campaign in Egypt to shame and frighten women who dare to demonstrate for their rights.

As part of that campaign of intimidation, women arrested during a peaceful protest in Tahrir Square were recently forced to submit to “virginity tests.” Not only that, they were beaten, given electric shocks, strip searched while male soldiers photographed them, and then subjected to invasive physical exams. All this because they were continuing to demand an end to sexual assault and a place in the “new” regime that they helped bring about.

Egyptian women were at the forefront of the protests that led to President Mubarak’s resignation. But now that Egyptian men have their freedom they want to keep Egyptian women from getting theirs. It was bad enough that there were “0”, nada, zip, zero women on the “panel of experts” (meaning men) that wrote the new constitution. But now women are being actively targeted when they demonstrate for equal rights.

But “detain and dishonor” is only part of the campaign to put Egyptian women back in their place and make them too afraid to demand fair treatment and equal rights. Women have been victims of a series of sexual attacks around Tahrir Square leading up to the second anniversary of the uprising. And, true to form, the official response has been to BLAME THE VICTIMS!

A video posted by the owner of an Egyptian television station declared that women protesters had gone to Tahrir Square because they wanted to be raped (Unbelievable!). He stated that they were “devils” who had made their hair fuzzy and untidy (I guess seeing a woman’s hair will drive Egyptian men insane!). Then this time-honored, reliable strategy was made official when the Upper House of Parliament said the full blame rested with the protesters – NOT THEIR ATTACKERS!

It’s not really surprising that the government and the military are trying to blunt the demands of the 2011 uprising by targeting women. But Amnesty International reports that Egyptian women are not running back to their homes in fear. Instead they are standing tall and demanding their rights. They are pushing back by exposing sexual violence in Egypt, and continuing to speak out, demonstrate, and protest for equal protections and equal opportunities in the new Egypt. (1)

Women have been attacked, jailed, raped, fired and more for speaking up for their rights and demanding to be treated like human beings for thousands of years. But if enough of us continue to support and speak up for EVE (Every Vagina on Earth), there’s not enough “manpower” in the world to stop us. Plus there are a great many whole men supporting us!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Making Progress/Losing Ground

Where we’re making progress:

With everything that’s gone wrong in Afghanistan over the last decade, it’s great to know there has been some good done. International forces, with a huge commitment and involvement by the U.S. military, have been waging war against the Taliban and their hate-filled, men-must-stay-in-control values for over a decade. And we’ve heard too many depressing stories about the thousands of military personnel and civilians that have been killed and maimed. But maybe their sacrifice will not have been in vain.

While the battles have raged, there has also been another campaign going on – building infrastructure including health facilities and schools. This campaign has suffered from tremendous waste and graft, but it also has had some wonderful effects for the people of Afghanistan. Life expectancy rose from 42 in 2002 to 62 in 2010. Death rates for mothers and their newborns have fallen dramatically. And most importantly for the future of this country, education has taken a huge upswing. In 2002, less than a million boys were in school and virtually no girls. Now there are 8 million students – and more than a third are girls! (1)

If you would like to personally change a woman’s life forever, go to and click on the “SPONSOR A SISTER” page to see how to become a direct supporter of a woman in Afghanistan.

Where we’re losing ground:

A shooting target mannequin named the "The Ex," a large-breasted woman who bleeds when shot, was being sold on It's manufactured by Zombie Industries, a company that was featured at the recent NRA convention.

The fact that Zombie Industries created and promoted this mannequin is contemptible. And the fact that was selling it and posting comments like, "This was a very original, cool way to kick off a bachelor party for a firearm enthusiast, such as myself" is unconscionable. Because "The Ex" shooting target turns violence against women into a joke and promotes the idea that men should want to kill their ex-wives or ex-girlfriends.

Gun violence against women is a serious problem. Let's review the facts. 57% of mass shootings involve incidents of domestic violence. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the chance that a woman will be murdered by 500%. 54% of women killed with guns are killed by intimate partners or family members.

But this “falling behind” actually had a decent outcome. On May 7th, pulled “The Ex” from its site after hearing from outraged women across the country. So, it goes to show - there are still those who think that violence against women is a laughing matter, but women are using their clout to actively challenge this Manplan attitude! Go EVE!!! (2)

(1) Kansas City Star editorial reprinted in The Ledger 5/9/13
(2) advocacy group

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Super Bowl & Slavery ??

Super Bowl – parties, team spirit, cakes shaped like footballs. Slavery – beatings, rape, torture. How could those two realities possibly be connected? They’re connected because the Super Bowl is the biggest profit event for sexual slavery in America. Most of us experience the big game as a good excuse for a fun time. But Clemmie Greenlee’s experience wasn’t fun - it was dangerous, demeaning, and depressing.

That’s because Clemmie had been forced to have sex with anywhere from 25 to 50 men EACH DAY of such an event! That’s right. The pimp who controlled her and continually sold her body was just one of many who shuttled their captives from city to city to “work” at large-scale gatherings. And the horrendous life of these young prisoners looks nothing like Hollywood’s lighthearted scenes of lovely girls gathered in the parlor of a brothel waiting to be chosen for a fun romp upstairs.

Ms. Greenlee’s nightmare began when she was kidnapped and raped into submission by her pimp at age 12, and then held in captivity as a sex trafficking victim for decades. According to Forbes, 10,000 women like Ms. Greenlee were brought to Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010. And they were under immense pressure to make maximum profits for their captors. "If you don't make that number (of sex customers), you're going to dearly, dearly, severely pay for it," Greenlee told the Times-Picayune. "I mean with beatings, I mean with over and over rapings. With just straight torture. The worst torture they put on you is when they make you watch the other girl get tortured because of your mistake."

Ms. Greenlee, who is now an advocate for sex trafficking victims in Louisiana, was speaking to a reporter in New Orleans prior to the 2013 Super Bowl. She was trying to raise awareness of the plight of tens of thousands of women help captive right here in the U.S.A. The Super Bowl is “commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States" according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. (1) But the sex trafficking victims must endure this nightmare every day of their lives until they either die or escape.

They don’t call it “slavery” anymore. They call it “human trafficking.” But the pimps who control these women don’t care what you call it. They just hope that men continue to slap down their money for the right to screw a woman’s body without the slightest thought for the rights of the body they’re screwing. But our awareness and our demands for safety and respect for all women can help Ms. Greenlee to end such nightmarish treatment.