Comments on “The Private War of Women Soldiers”
April 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
I was very surprised to hear about the inaction on the part of high-ranking military officials towards sexual assault and abuse of women soldiers in the American military. You’d think, with them making up 15% of the military body, there would be more done to address their unique situation in a war zone. These abuses have obviously not been circulated widely enough for the media to bother taking up the cause of female soldiers, which in itself is telling, I think.
But I have another question, which I think would go a long way towards answering questions about why women on military bases are so vulnerable to assault. Why aren’t accommodations provided for both men and women to have sex while on extended tours of duty? These military personnel are in high-stress situations for many months, sometimes even years, without respite. Isn’t it a type of sexual abuse to put these soldiers in situations where they are unable to find healthy expression for their sexual drive? In anthropology, researchers doing fieldwork for extended periods of time run into the same ethical dilemma. It’s unethical to form relationships with the locals, it’s unprofessional to sleep with colleagues, and it reflects badly on your work and your moral rectitude to visit a brothel. In the past, prostitutes were used to “boost troop morale”, and before that, soldiers would rape the women of the towns and cities they conquered. Obviously, rape of conquered people isn’t acceptable today, but neither is the rape of female soldiers. In a sexually conservative place like Iraq or Afghanistan, a woman would be endangering herself and perhaps even her family if she engaged in prostitution.
So if we’re going to address the very real and pressing issue of female soldiers’ safety in the military, what are we going to do about the issue it stems from?