Woman as Reason
Military murders and cover-ups
by Terry Moon
Abu Ghraib showed the world that those in the U.S. military torture, rape, and murder. It revealed the dehumanization of Muslim prisoners who were treated as things. Despite the huge outcry, what positively proves that nothing has changed is that the same kind of torture, rape, and murder continues to occur, the military continues to cover it up; only the victims are not alone those the military considers the enemy, but U.S. women soldiers.
Since the U.S. war on Iraq began, 97 women have died and 40%--39 of those deaths--are attributed to non-combat related injuries. Here are a few "injuries" that have become known:
The murder of U.S. women soldiers is not confined to Iraq. Just in the last six months at U.S. bases: Spc. Megan Touma was found slain in June in a Fayetteville motel room. She had been at Fort Bragg nine days. Sgt. Edgar Patino was charged. The burned remains of nurse 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc's body was discovered in Onslow County in July, three days after a suspicious fire was reported at her Fayetteville apartment. Her estranged husband, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, and another Camp Lejeune Marine, have been charged. Sgt. Christina Smith was killed on Sept. 30 after her husband, Sgt. Richard Smith, paid another serviceman to carry out the attack.
What is the military brass doing? Hiding and stonewalling. That was made crystal clear when, despite being subpoenaed by Congress to testify at a hearing on sexual assault in the military called by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Dr. Kaye Whitley, director of the Dept. of Defense's (DoD) Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), was ordered not to appear by DoD higher-ups. Only a letter to the Secretary of Defense threatening Whitley with contempt prompted her bosses to let her appear at a second hearing in September. After all that, Whitley was a shill for the DoD, gushing about the success of the SAPRO. Furthermore, the DoD has done everything possible to keep the statistics of rape, abuse, and outright murder from being known, first by not tracking or recording them. Nevertheless, thanks to military women themselves we know that almost one in three military women is raped; that 80% of the rapes are never reported due to harassment of those who do report; and that 47% of sexual assaults reported in 2007 were dismissed and only 8% went to court-martial.
I remember when there was a national debate about women being drafted and being allowed more expanded roles in the military. Equality feminists took the ground of this society when they demanded that women serve equally with men. Other feminists, including those of us in News and Letters Committees, argued against that, saying that no one should be drafted, that the U.S. military was inherently defective because it wasn't a force that fought for freedom, but only to maintain capitalism.
But it isn't only a question that today's military props up capitalism. It is that these murders, rapes, and harassment of military women reveal that women are still viewed as things, as less than human. In fact the military operates not only by dehumanizing the other, as seen by Abu Ghraib, but by considering its own soldiers as property, the most ugly expression of which is the murder, rape and harassment of women soldiers. It is one more reason why fighting for a new society grounded in new human relations is a necessity.
Published by News and Letters Committees