The Combat Within: Female Veterans and PTSD Benefits

Go check out Courtney’s newest column at the American Prospect about the need for female veterans who are sexual assault survivors and are suffering PTSD to be classified as disabled and eligible for services.

It makes a certain amount of sense that the Veterans Affairs Office is compelled to differentiate combat from non-combat veterans. Those who have been exposed to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the stress of direct negotiation, and the trials of patrol on a daily basis certainly have a higher rate of PTSD and other disabilities following their tour than those who have not. But it’s not a zero-sum game. When the sexual assault rates among female veterans are so astronomically high — at least 30, and as high as 70 percent, according to Helen Benedict, author of the new book The Lonely Soldier — the “combat” classification becomes a moot point. Keep in mind that sexual assault is a hugely underreported crime; even the Pentagon admits that only 10 to 20 percent of cases are probably being reported.
Add to this the reality that military culture is built on breaking down some of our most basic psychological instincts through humiliation, deprivation, and submission, and it becomes less and less logical to separate the soldiers who have seen combat from those who haven’t. Everyone who signs his or her name on the dotted line of a military contract is destined for psychological trauma of one kind or another, especially if they’re female.

(emphasis mine)
I think this point of the culture of humiliation, deprivation and submission is not only a helpful frame in understanding the culture within the military, but also in thinking about the mindset that motivates the military to then create those types of conditions amongst the communities we are warring with be it via prisons or the use of rape as a weapon of war. It seems logical to us that a US military culture that demands a certain level of emasculation, would create, produce and sustain a culture of sexual violence.

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“Mass Molestations” Show Why We Still Can’t Talk About Sexual Violence in India

With the onset of 2017 came a forceful reminder to women in India: we don’t belong in public spaces, and we will be punished for any attempt to inhabit them. A Bangalore Mirror story shocked the country with a report that a public New Year’s Eve party in the heart of the metropolitan, progressive city was invaded by “hooligans” who attacked and molested the women present at the gathering, while threatening and intimidating the men and children at the scene with them. Women reported being verbally harassed, molested, groped by a “huge group of unruly men,” and forced to escape the scene of the crime with their heels in their hands. The “brazen mass molestation” of women occurred despite ...

With the onset of 2017 came a forceful reminder to women in India: we don’t belong in public spaces, and we will be punished for any attempt to inhabit them. A Bangalore Mirror story shocked the country ...

Members of All India Students Association (AISA) shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest outside police headquarters in New Delhi, India, October 18, 2015. Dozens of AISA members on Sunday held a protest against the recent rapes in the capital, the demonstrators said. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee - RTS4YAL

Marking the anniversary of the 2012 Delhi rape, and the feminist movement it launched

What does it mean to mark anniversaries of violence? Which anniversaries do we mark, and how do we take these memories forward as movements?

On December 16th 2012, physical therapy intern Jyoti Singh (known as “Nirbhaya,” or “Fearless”) was brutally raped on a bus in Delhi. She subsequently died from her injuries.

The attack inspired nationwide protests and global rage, as Indians took to the streets to protest pervasive violence against women. As a result of the protests, an Indian government committee issued the comprehensive Justice Verma Committee Report, a sweeping indictment of patriarchal violence recommending, among other progressive mandates, the criminalization of marital rape and an end to military impunity in acts of sexual violence.

While subsequent laws did not fully implement ...

What does it mean to mark anniversaries of violence? Which anniversaries do we mark, and how do we take these memories forward as movements?

On December 16th 2012, physical therapy intern Jyoti Singh (known as “Nirbhaya,” ...