12 April 2011

[VIDEO] Voices From the Field: Service Women's Action Network (SWAN)

Here's a statistic that'll run chills down your spine: at least one-third of all US women veterans have experienced rape or sexual assault during their service. You read that right: one-third.

The prevalence of sexual assault in our armed services is a national disgrace -- and Ms. Foundation grantee Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) is doing all it can to end to this epidemic. Through groundbreaking advocacy initiatives and innovative, community programs that focus on healing, SWAN supports, defends, and builds the power of today’s servicewomen and women veterans of all eras. The organization works to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and the freedom to serve in uniform -- without threat of harassment, discrimination, intimidation or assault.

In recent months, SWAN has ratcheted up the fight to protect servicemembers from sexual assault -- and to improve the military's response when such events do occur -- to incredible new levels. The organization played a lead role in a groundbreaking lawsuit against the Department of Defense for its failure to investigate incidents of rape and sexual abuse, and served as a driving force behind legislation, recently introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar, that would require the DOD to establish a unified system to permanently retain digital records in all cases of military rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, and allow lifetime access to these records by the survivor.

The following Ms. Foundation Voices From the Field video is one Marine's story of sexual assault in the military, as told to us by her mother. Her abuse at the hands of her attacker -- and the military's response to it -- make it all too clear how important SWAN's work is, and how desperately our armed services need the transformation SWAN seeks to bring about.

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