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#MeToo moves to the military

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America is In Trouble, a painting by Alexis Venables

America is In Trouble, a painting by Alexis Venables

Emma Rasmusen

Emma Rasmusen

America is In Trouble, a painting by Alexis Venables

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The #Me Too movement, which has made remarkable advances for sexual assault awareness in the workplace, has pushed into the military with the February 7th testimony of Sarah Reyes.

According to CNN, Sarah Reyes was a victim of rape by a fellow soldier after a party in her barracks. She became intoxicated during the party and later suffered from gaps in memory over the events of the night. After reporting the incident, she was informed by the all-male investigative team that there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges against her attacker, despite him having admitted to the encounter, though he reported it as consensual.

Sexual assault in the military has been a prevalent issue for the last several years. In 2015, an outcry from the general public prompted a bill to pass through Congress that dismissed the statue of limitations on sexual assault cases in the military, barred commanders from overturning verdicts in rape cases, and made it illegal to retaliate against victims who choose to report. Even with this large push, in 2016, 68% of military victims did not report their sexual assaults and 6 out of 10 victims dealt with retaliation when they chose to report, according to the Department of Defense and the Pentagon respectively.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, when asked about the progress being made said, “Many victims and experts agree that the issue of sexual assault in the military is systematic and ingrained in their culture. Despite the efforts being made, only 4% of all cases end in a conviction according to Lydia Watts, the CEO of SWAN, a member based community of women in the service.”

The truth is that the scourge of sexual assault in the military remains status quo. ”

— Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

The story of sexual assaults and the subsequent silencing of its victims has been an ugly trend in America that the #MeToo movement is trying to overcome. As #MeToo sweeps through Hollywood and the U.S. government, exposing the heinous ways of predators like Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken, many are beginning to wonder when these changes will reflect back in to the military.

Reyes is one of many victims in the past several years that have spoken out against the militaries failure to punish their assailants. In November, 200 women working in national security signed a letter titled #MeTooSEC to share their similar experiences of sexual assault and harassment in their workplace. In the letter, they addressed the weak policies that are put in place to combat sexual assault and aid their victims, and steps that should be taken in order to prohibit the continuance of sexual assault and harassment in their field.

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About the Writer
Emma Rasmussen, Journalist

Emma Rasmussen is a senior at Sartell High School. She has an affinity for the arts, such as writing and painting. Her favorite musicians are Elton John,...

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#MeToo moves to the military