where to start?

do we start by helping ethiopian women? this piece by London Independent journalist Johann Hari is terrifying, heartbreaking, and infuriating.

"In 2003 - the last year for which statistics are available - the National Committee on Traditional Practices of Ethiopia found that 69 per cent of marriages begin like this, with the triple-whammy of abduction, rape, and a forced signature. In a country with a mixture of Protestant, Catholic and Muslim, all religions practice it equally."

but it's also deeply, deeply inspiring, because the women are making a difference. they are actually saving their sisters, daughters, and friends. they are literally changing minds and attitudes.

"...cultures can change when women are given a chance"

this is a MUST-READ article.


or, do we start in our own backyard, with our own armed forces? CNN reports that the Pentagon is crowing about how their work to encourage more reporting of sexual assault in the military is working.

"According to the new report, the Department of Defense had two sexual assaults per 1,000 service members in fiscal year 2009. The Army reported 2.6 per 1,000 soldiers; the Navy reported 1.6 per 1,000; the Air Force reported 1.4 per 1,000; and the Marine Corps had 1.3 per 1,000."

"Pentagon officials have said that even though there have been improvements that allow military personnel to report cases, they estimate that only between 10 percent and 20 percent of people who were sexually assaulted report the crime."

here are my take-aways from this piece:

1. the Army is the most dangerous place for women in our armed forces, but not by much.

2. officials sure are proud of this supposed proof that REPORTS are increasing. too bad they still don't have a clue about how many women are actually raped by their fellow soldiers, because reporting a rape pretty much guarantees you further humiliation and abuse (including professional abuse- being denied promotions and advancement.) when they take some real action to STOP RAPE in the military, then i'll share their enthusiasm.

3. according to the Women's Memorial organization, there were approximately 208,000 women in active duty in the u.s. armed forces in 2009. so if 2 out of 1000 were sexually assaulted last year, that means over 400 women* are assaulted while serving their country, by their fellow soldiers. this is unacceptable.

*i should note- the gender of the person reporting the sexual assault was not given in the article...a few of them may be men too. equally unacceptable.
not equally as threatening to male service members (as in, a threat hanging daily over their heads just because they are a male service member), but equally unacceptable, certainly.

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