The Air Force's Rape Culture

Back when I was just a newbie blogger, one of the issues I followed was the culture of rape that permeated the United States Air Force Academy. USAFA typically responded to rape allegations by going after the accuser. Eight male cadets dismissed for sexual assault did not face a court martial. All in all, 54 rapes and/or sexual assaults were reported at USAFA from 1993 to 2003, resulting in a grand total of two charges. In the same period of time, five female cadets were disciplined for coming forward with allegations of rape.

What happens when the school that turns out a military branch's officers accepts and internalizes the idea that an accusation of rape is more dangerous than rape itself? Unsurprisingly, those officers go on to believe that an accusation of rape is more dangerous than rape itself:
The story goes down like this: Hernandez was at a party, where she was drinking. She says that three male airman raped her. She went to the hospital and filed a report accusing her attackers. Due to stress and harsh interrogation tactics by the Air Force, she eventually refused to testify against the airmen.

The Air Force then charged her with underage drinking (of which she admits to being guilty, but that's hardly the point, now is it?) and, along with her three attackers, "indecent acts." I had a hell of a lot of trouble finding an official definition for "indecent acts," and the best one I came up with is a "form of immorality relating to sexual impurity which is not only grossly vulgar, obscene, and repugnant to common propriety, but tends to excite lust and deprave the morals with respect to sexual relations." Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the basic translation seems to be "a sexual act, particularly one that is not generally accepted in society,
such as sex with multiple partners."

So. The woman was raped. By three men. She reported her rape. She was harassed by her superiors, to the point where she became too afraid to testify. The Air Force took this as meaning that the sex was therefore consensual (which isn't what it means at all), and charged her in the case of her own rape. If she loses her case, she could be publicly registered as a sex offender.
But wait, there's more.
Sounds like it couldn't get any worse, right? But it does. How? The three alleged attackers were offered sexual assault immunity to testify against Hernandez on the indecent acts charge. Having at least half a brain cell among them, they accepted.
So to sum: a woman is now being charged with the crime of being raped, and her attackers have been granted immunity to testify against her.

Cara at Feministing encourages everyone to write to his or her senator and representative about this case, and I encourage you to do so. But it's awfully bad news, and a continued sign that our military simply doesn't think rape is a bad thing. Boys will be boys, after all.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus