Link Roundup – Get it Together, Government

I’ve got a TON of Vagina News saved up, so I’m going to put together related links with abbreviated commentary until we catch up.

To begin, GET IT TOGETHER, GOVERNMENT:

– Reset the ‘Days Without a GOP Rape Mention’ counter and tell Todd Akin to put his shiny shoes on, because Arizona House Representative Trent Franks apparently woke up from a coma today and said, “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” Deja vomit.

By way of response, let’s revisit ‘The Worst States for Pregnant Rape Victims.’ 

– Next time you see your gynecologist (or anyone else’s) give them a hug, because this week the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement castigating state governments for initiating an unprecedented number of bills aimed at restricting women’s reproductive rights. 

– And finally, the Air Force has put Major General Margaret Atwood (that’s a woman, for the record) in charge of the branch’s efforts to curb military sexual assault. Atwood is four steps higher in the chain of command than her predecessor, Lieut. Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, who was arrested last month for – say it with me – sexual assault. 

 

The Paradox of Secrecy

One of the reasons I’m strict about who can access this page is so we can talk about things like today’s Vagina News.

Yesterday, a reader and dear friend sent me a story about video and photos circulating online of US soldiers raping Iraqi women in the course of conducting military operations. I watched enough to know that it’s a) a really important story, and b) a HUGE risk for both triggering and exploitation. 

(Anyone interested can find it pretty easily. Please be warned, every article I found contained photos and video, much of it above the fold and on autoplay.)

I feel trapped. This is the kind of crime that breeds through secrecy and darkness and desperately needs the disinfectant of widespread public attention, especially in light of the larger conversation happening right now about rape culture in the military. 

BUT… There are significant risks in making this kind of material widely available, both in retraumatizing victims, and in fueling people and groups that would exploit it for sexual gratification and/or profit. 

So that’s my question for you. What do we do? How do we tell the truth about what’s happening and ensure these crimes are witnessed without adding to the trauma and exploitation they’ve already caused?

 

Good Vagina News – Plan B, Rape Kits, and Military Baby Steps

I’m happy to report that there’s a lot of good Vagina News today.

– A federal appeals court has defied the Obama administration and sided with the FDA in making Plan B One-Step emergency contraception available over the counter with no age restriction. (An appeal is pending.)

 

– Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy, who since 2009 has been raising outside funds to test the city’s backlog of 10,000+ untested rape kits, has finally gotten some help – in the form of $4 million from the state attorney general. 

“Of the 569 kits that have been tested so far, 136 of those have yielded hits in the Combined DNA Index System maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Thirty-two of those hits have been identified as serial rapists.” 

(That means it costs about $27k to identify a serial rapist – basically the price of a new car – which may be the best deal in government spending I’ve ever heard.)

 

– We’ve taken the first baby steps toward addressing military sexual assault. 

A provision has been added to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (which funds military spending) that stops military commanders from being able to reverse rape convictions, as notoriously happened in a case earlier this year. 

Provisions were also added to make it easier for victims to get legal counsel, quicker access to disability benefits for PTSD associated with rape or sexual assault, and to guarantee that convicted military sex offenders will be discharged or dismissed. 

But we have to end on a sour note, because we still have not addressed the core issue; The current structure – which leaves investigation and prosecution of military sexual assault cases solely at the discretion of superior officers – is a disaster. It fails to meet our responsibility to victims, and rewards perpetrators, who are allowed to continue to serve “honorably”, and then sent back into the general population. Until that is addressed, the other changes will have little effect.