Do you remember the hardships Demi Moore’s character went through to become the first woman to join Navy Special Forces in the 1997 film GI Jane?
Imagine further, that after such dedicated service, GI Jane and another 26,000 of her fellow service women face sexual assault while serving in the military. Often such assault goes unreported and unpunished, leaving the question, is there justice for GI Jane?
While GI Jane was fictitious, the pervasive level of sexual assault in the service is not. Unfortunately as Face The Nation* reports, a culture of power in the military leads to the pervasive abuse of women serving our country.
In the current system, the commander oversees such complaints; yet this can lead to conflicts of interest or lax oversight, especially if the commander is party to the complaint.
In civilian workplaces, employees are protected from retaliation when they voice concerns for civil rights as outlined in Title VII legislation.
Also, in civilian workplaces, employees can access a third-party in the EEOC and the court system if they don’t find justice internally with Human Resources.
However, it appears that the power structures in the military jeopardize this very right for women. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, has proposed legislation that takes the adjudication process out of the hands of commanders and instead brings such cases to a military board outside the chain of command.
She also reminded the senate that countries like the United Kingdom and Israel have already taken such steps to protect their service women.
The military reports that 97% of its service men and women go through sexual harassment prevention training. Another 9 out of 10 state they would encourage women to report such abuse.
Then why do 26,000 women face sexual assault?
As with any organization which subscribes to power structures as part of its management structure, when power is abused, those at the bottom of the food chain are the ones to endure such abuse.
This is not commentary on how the military should run its leadership training or functions, but it is a reflection on how the misuse of power corrupts. Whether military or civilian leadership, whether it is about abuse, assault, bullying or other corruption of power, it is leadership at the helm that sets the tone, who serves as the architect of the organizational culture.
*SOURCE: CBS News Report