25 June 2013

Military Must Better Protect Women

By: Anika Rahman, Ms. Foundation for Women president and CEO

James Taranto ("Gen. Helms and the Senator's 'Hold'," op-ed, June 18) refers to efforts to reduce sexual assault in the military as "becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality." Mr. Taranto cites a singular instance of perceived injustice as evidence of the "war on men."

Women's advocates and members of Congress alike have raised alarms about the military's repeated pattern of ineptitude at both protecting women from sexual assault and holding offenders accountable.

In fact, servicewomen have endured a long history of disrespect with regard to their health, rights and safety. It was only three years ago that emergency contraception was added to the list of medications available to all servicemembers, providing military women with the same opportunities to prevent unwanted pregnancy as civilians. And it wasn't until this January that the ban on insurance coverage for abortions for servicewomen who are victims of rape or incest was repealed—finally aligning servicewomen's rights with those of civilian employees and Medicaid recipients.

With an estimated 26,000 military sexual assaults last year alone, it's irresponsible to conclude that it is men upon whom attacks are being waged.

It seems quite clear that concrete efforts to prevent sexual assault in the military are long overdue.

A version of this article appeared June 25, 2013, on page A14 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Military Must Better Protect Women.

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