Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Surprise: military culture of abuse

Aimee Allison's truly disturbing post at Alternet reveals yet another facet of the culture of abuse that permeates our military - yet is so often downplayed in order to valorize and glamorize the image of the soldier. This time, the victims are women. And they are being abused before they even put on their uniform.

Recently, the Marine Corps announced a court settlement in a suit brought by two Ukiah, Calif., teenage girls who were raped by recruiters during a 2004 military-sponsored event.

The recruiters, Sgts. Joseph Dunzweiler and Brian Fukushima, were court-martialed and demoted but nevertheless acquitted of serious wrongdoing.


An Associated Press investigation revealed that in 2005 one in 200 frontline recruiters were punished for harassment and abuse. The Army alone had 722 recruiters accused of rape and sexual misconduct in the last decade and called for a recruitment stand down day in 2005. After widespread reports of rape, unwarranted jail threats, cheating drug tests and falsifying documents, thousands of recruiters were ordered to attend ethics training.

So what do we do about abusive recruiters? Oh, right, we let them into our schools.

Recruiters have unprecedented access to girls (and boys) thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act which demands that public schools turn over student contact data to military recruiters so they can "work their market." In addition, the majority of school districts in the country have relaxed rules that allow recruiters to come and go at will. As a result, more young people have personal and sustained contact with recruiters.

I've long supported the anti-recruitment movement, simply on the grounds that I do not think recruiters should be allowed to prey on the most disadvantaged youth at a time in their life - the end of high school - where their future first begins to look unstable. But there is absolutely zero reason to allow a military culture which turns a blind eye to abuse - from Abu Grahib to the 33% of all military women who will be raped by fellow soldiers - cannot be tolerated in our schools any longer.

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