Rumsfeld Orders Investigation into Sexual Assaults on Female Soldiers
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has ordered a review into the Defense Department's measures to prevent sexual attacks against female soldiers. This review was called for after a series of reports were issued regarding male soldiers assaulting and abusing female soldiers who were also denied adequate counseling and medical care during duty in Iraq and Kuwait. According to Reuters, Rumsfeld asked for the report and recommendations to be made within ninety days.
According to the Washington Post, 88 cases of sexual misconduct have been reported over the past year in areas where the Central Command operates, including Iraq and Kuwait. Thirty-eight female officers say they have been sexually assaulted in Kuwait and Iraq, of which 12 reported the assaults to the authorities.
Rumsfeld has ordered "commanders at every level...to take appropriate steps to prevent sexual assaults, protect victims and hold those who commit offences accountable," according to Reuters. He went on to say in his memo that the Department of Defense is "responsible for ensuring that the victims of sexual assault are properly treated, their medical and psychological needs are properly met, our policies and programs effective, and we are prompt in dealing with all issues involved," Reuters reports. In addition, Rumsfeld stated that he wants to ensure that there are private channels that exist for victims to report attacks.
According to Reuters, women make up approximately 15 percent of the overall military and about 10 percent of US troops currently in Iraq.
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Media Resources: Reuters 2/7/04; Washington Post 2/7/04; CNN 2/6/04