Moral Low Ground

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Military Rape Victims Sue Pentagon

A group of 17 US military veterans are suing the Pentagon, alleging the Defense Department ignored reports of rape and sexual assault amongst the ranks of the armed forces. The 15 women and 2 men hope their class action lawsuit will force the US military to change the way it handles sexual assault cases.

The suit names Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld as defendants and details 16 alleged sexual assaults in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Reserves. All the alleged assaults occurred while the plaintiffs were on active duty, some of them in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There were 3,292 reported sexual assaults in the US armed forces last year. But that number is misleading because up to 80% of assaults are never reported.

“Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are a plague upon the United States military,” Anuradha Bhagwati of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) told ABC News. “A pervasive climate of sexual violence and intimidation threatens our national security by undermining operational readiness, draining morale, harming retention and destroying lives.”

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