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WORLD & NATION
Sexual assault rates rise lu US prisons and military
according to 2012 statistical analysis
22.8 PERCENT REPORTED BEING
VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT OR RAPE
WHILE IN A WAR ZONE.
BY HANNAH WALLER
Sexual violence against women in U.S. jails, prisons and
the military has increased according to 2012 statistical reports.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 requires an
annual "comprehensive statistical review and analysis of
the incidence and effects of prison rape," conducted by the
Bureau of Justice Statistics. These reviews include the Survey
of Sexual Violence.
A recent release of the SSV reveals that the national
estimate of allegations of sexual victimization rose from 6,241
in 2005 to 7,444 in 2008.
In 2012, Tutwiler Prison in Alabama was exposed by the
Equal Justice Initiative as one of the most severe cases of
sexual violence against women amongst U.S. correctional
facilities. According to the EJI, Tutwiler Prison was guilty of
under reporting data concerning sexual violence within the
Some attribute the high rates of sexual violence against
incarcerated women to the gender dynamics in correctional
"Having male guards sends a message that female
prisoners have no right to defend their bodies," former
political prisoner Laura Whitehorn told Truthout. "Putting
women under men in authority makes the power imbalance
as stark as it can be and results in long-lasting repercussions
In many correctional facilities, sexual misconduct may be
not be reported due to fear or bribery by correctional officers.
Inmates are often coerced into sexual activity with promises
of extra privileges or threats of punishment, such as solitary
confinement. If an inmate tries to report sexual misconduct,
she may be discouraged from doing so or even threatened.
Under-reporting is also an issue in cases of sexual violence
within the U.S. military. Of the sexual assaults in the U.S.
military that are reported, less than 6 percent resulted in
In an anonymous survey of women who served in Iraq
or Afghanistan conducted by the Department of Veterans
Affairs, 22.8 percent reported being victims of sexual assault
or rape while in a war zone.
The Pentagon's annual report on sexual harassment
released in December showed a 23 percent increase in sexual
assaults reported by students at its military academies,
making 2012 the third consecutive year of increase.
Nancy Parrish, president of Protect Our Defenders,
identified the flaws in the military justice system.
"Every aspect is dysfunctional: from prevention and
victim care, to reporting, investigation, prosecution and
adjudication," Parrish told The Guilfordian. "The system
is encumbered with command bias and conflict of interest,
inexperienced and under-trained staff, (and) arbitrary and
inconsistent application of the law."
Forty percent of women who reported being victims of
sexual assault claimed that their perpetrator held a higher
rank in the military chain of command.
"The system elevates an individual commander's
authority and discretion over the rule of law," Parrish
continued. "Commanders can and do arbitrarily decide to
not proceed with prosecutions, or (they) set convictions or
2013 is already emphasizing the fight against institutional
Legislative action is being taken to protect women from
assault. The Violence Against Women Act, being voted on
by the House of Representatives within the week, contains
provisions that could help to protect incarcerated women
from being sexually assaulted.
"This is an issue I, as Secretary of Defense, am committed
to making sure we confront," said Secretary of Defense
Leon Panetta to NBC. His plan recommended placing more
women into command positions in the military, improving
investigations and educating soldiers about the issue of
Panetta is also against moving military sexual assault cases
to civilian courts.
Congresswoman Jackie Speier plans to reintroduce the
Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act in
the coming year. The STOP Act would "take the reporting,
oversight, investigation and victim care of sexual assaults out
of the hands of the military's normal chain of command and
place jurisdiction in the newly-created, autonomous Sexual
Assault Oversight and Response Office comprised of civilian
and military experts."
Sexual assault within these U.S. institutions has become
more prevalent, but with effective legislation and attention,
does not need to remain a threat to women within
government-run prisons or the military.
Egypt in state of emergency
BY LAURA HAY
Egypt's citizens continue to protest
the country's policies, leading the
government to declare a national state of
emergency in late January.
Violence from protests has claimed the
lives of more than 60 people in the region.
"Continuing political strife could cause
the collapse of the state and threatens
the country's future generations," Egypt
Military General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi told
Three cities exhibiting the most unrest
— Port Said, Suez and Ismailiyah — were
each assigned a curfew in an effort to curb
Still, many residents defied the night
time curfew and continued to protest
throughout the evening hours.
According to Assistant Professor of
Peace and Conflict Studies Amal Khoury,
this violence is not a new, isolated incident
but can be traced back to the Arab Spring
of 2011 when then President Hosni
Mubarack's government was toppled by
Egyptian citizens. In 2012, Mohammed
Morsi was elected to replace Mubarak.
Egyptians have since expressed
dissatisfaction with Morsi, his Muslim
Brotherhood - based government, and his
policy, the BBC reported.
"After forcing Mubarak from office, the
Egyptians were hoping for change and
democracy," said Max Carter, director of
the Friends Center and campus ministry
"They feel they haven't gotten that
from Morsi and simply replaced one
dictator with another."
Senior Sara Hussein, a student of
Egyptian descent, said that during
Morsi's term to date, he "managed to
make it clear that he is only interested in
consolidating power in the hands of (the)
Islamic Brotherhood and not interested in
solving people's problems."
Amir Abedrabo, a former Guilford
student now living in Palestine agreed.
"Morsi has done nothing to improve
the (life of the) average citizen; on the
contrary, poverty, illiteracy and crime
rates have all gone up, along with
unemployment," said Abedrabo in an
The citizens and Egyptian government
cannot seem to come to consensus on the
next course of action, making the prospect
of peace a distant one, the BBC reported.
Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the
opposition's National Salvation Front,
insists that Morsi make concessions before
agreeing to talks. ElBaradei aims to "take
urgent steps to stop the violence and start
a serious dialogue," Al-Jazeera reported.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace
and Conflict Studies Jeremy Rinker
hopes for an end to the fighting but sees
obstacles in its path.
"There is no easy answer," said
Rinker. "There are so many underlying
issues fueling this uprising that finding
a solution is very difficult. Egypt could
employ a third party to help sort out the
It is likely that violence and protests
will continue in the region until the
Egyptian government compromises with
Somali rape culture reveals crisis
SHABAB REBELS LEAD
SEXUAL ATTACKS ON WOMEN
BY SHELBY SMITH
Famine. Piracy. Drought. Chaos. Death.
These are a few words that are associated
with Somalia. Now, rape is an identifier that
can be added to that list.
Since the collapse of the Somali central
I government in the early 1990s, most
1 communities are left to their own devices,
j relying on old customs and laws without the
I support of the central government. This leaves
j them vulnerable to attack by rebel warlords.
I One prominent rebel group is the Shabab,
j who are committing many of the rapes. The
number of rape victims is growing.
Women's rights activist Mama Hawo Haji
has seen the rising amount of victims in the
hospital where she works in Somali's capital
"In the last two days alone, we have taken
32 rape cases to the hospital," Haji said to IRIN
Political chaos and famine appear to be
major contributing factors to these attacks.
Aid and financial support are also limited for
In these desperate conditions, women are
forced to venture from their homes alone to
find food and water. In doing so, they become
vulnerable to sexual assault
The Shabab take girls young as 10 years old
and make them brides of their commanding
officers. These marriages are neither legal nor
ceremonial. The marriages are often compared
to sexual slavery. "He did whatever he wanted
with me ... night and day," one former bride
told The New York limes. If the women
refuse to marry, their punishment is death.
The actions of the Shabab have created
an environment of fear in the region.
Additionally, the Shabab are using a tool that
governs most Somalis: religion.
Ninety-eight percent of ^malis are Muslim,
the majority being Sunni, and the Shabab
claim that their religious beliefs serve as
justification for violence against women. The
Shabab believe their actions are a jihad that
will restore Somalia to "pure Islam," a concept
on which they have not fully elaborated.
However, others see this justification as a
religious guise, recognizing the group's need
to further their political gains.
Campus Ministry Coordinator Max Carter
believes the current unrest a misinterpretation
of religious texts.
"You've got to subject theology to critical
analysis," Carter said. "There are no free
While the misuse of Islam in rationalizing
rape is distressing to many, the fear inflicted
upon Somalis by the Shabab has resulted in
silence over the issue.
Women who have been raped are
considered tainted, leaving their prospects for
the future - particularly marriage - limited. In
keeping with this fear and embarrassment, a
number of rape cases are not reported, making
file actual total of rape cases higher than
While the exact number of sexual assaults is
unknown in Somalia, it is a certainty that the
count is continuing to rise. ,
Solutions to Somalia's rape crisis have yet
to be determined.