With a looming vote in the Senate, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is drumming up support for her proposal to put independent prosecutors in charge of military rape cases.
Fifty-nine percent of Americans support ending the military rape culture by putting an independent prosecutor in charge of deciding which rape cases to prosecute, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
This move protects victims from the rampant retaliation that’s taken place in the military against rape victims and protects the institution from commanders with an agenda. It’s a win, win – and a majority across party lines agree that it’s time to for this change.
Six in 10 Americans support letting independent prosecutors decide which cases to charge with just 36% preferring to keep things as they are.
There’s broad support for Gillibrand’s effort outside of Congress. While Democrats and Independents support it about 6 out of 10, Republicans aren’t far behind at 53%. Things change up when divvied up by ideology, however, with 2/3 of liberals supporting it and only 48% of conservatives supporting ending the rape culture.
Seventy percent of college graduates and 62% of non-evangelical white protestants support the change as well, while just 46% of evangelical white protestants support it, and 49% of those who haven’t gone past high school.
Men equal women in support for this change, although married women support it more by 65% to 53% single women.
Removing rape cases from the purview of commanders is a good thing for the institution of the military as well as for rape victims. It takes away the natural tendency to forgive “heroes” that can so damage an institution (see Penn State).
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey admitted bias in system that is “a little too forgiving” on May, 17 2013. He explained, “You might argue that we have become a little too forgiving because, if a perpetrator shows up at a court-martial with a rack of ribbons and has four deployments and a Purple Heart, there is certainly the risk that we might be a little too forgiving of that particular crime.”
The majority of members of any institution are not predators and do not intentionally set out to foster a rape culture. However unintentionally, they end up enabling predators due to the inherent conflict of interest between protecting their resources/heroes/financial investments and upholding the law. Removing these decisions from commanders doesn’t undermine them as critics suggest. In fact, the institution will be protecting itself from damaging publicity by agreeing to let independent prosecutors handle these cases.
As always, the facts and the evidence should determine which crimes are prosecuted. That is how our legal system is supposed to work, and no one is supposed to be above it.
There’s a staggering list of groups supporting Gillibrand’s proposal, including:
• Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
• Vietnam Veterans of America
• Service Womens Action Network
• Protect Our Defenders
• National Women’s Law Center
• National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women
• National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
• National Research Center for Women & Families
• Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health
• Our Bodies Ourselves
• International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
• Members of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
• Baha’is of the United States
• Equal Rights Advocates
• Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
• Federally Employed Women
• Feminist Majority
• Futures Without Violence
• General Federation of Women’s Clubs
• Girls, Inc.
• Hindu American Seva Communities
• Institute for Science and Human Values, Inc.
• Jewish Women International
• Joyful Heart Foundation
• National Capital Union Retirees
• National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
• National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
• National Congress of Black Women, Inc
• National Council of Churches
• National Council of Jewish Women
• National Council of Women’s Organizations
• National Organization for Women
• National Women’s Health Network
• OWL-The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
• Peaceful Families Project
• Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Inc.
• Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
• SPART*A, an LGBT Military Organization
• The National Congress of American Indians
• United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
• Woman’s National Democratic Club
• Women’s Research & Education Institute
• YWCA USA
No matter how well intentioned, failure to remove rape prosecutions from the commanders’ purview is a license to enable the current rape culture. Rape is crime of power, not passion. Predators prey on systemically weaker, vulnerable victims. This is calculated and purposeful. To ignore this fact is to enable this reality.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.