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Correspondent’s remarks exhibit issue with society

Correspondent’s remarks exhibit issue with society (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor) Correspondent’s remarks exhibit issue with society (credit: Jonathan Carreon/Photo Editor)

Late last month, the Pentagon released a report that stated the rate of sexual crimes within the U.S. Army — most frequently “rape, sexual assault, and forcible sodomy” — has increased by 64 percent since 2006. Of these reported sex crimes, 95 percent were committed against women.

Liz Trotta, a correspondent for Fox News and the first woman to cover a war for a broadcast news channel, commented last Sunday that these “feminists” — as she seems to call women who serve in the military and those who support the notion that these sex crimes are happening — have only themselves to blame.

“Now, what did they expect?” Trotta said during a Fox News segment. “These people are in close contact, the whole airing of this issue has never been done by Congress, it’s strictly been a question of pressure from the feminists.”

Trotta’s statements are erroneous on several accounts. Her first mistake was assuming that the 64 percent increase in reported sexual crimes was due to the steady increase in the number of women in the military.

At a Pentagon press conference last Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta rightfully pointed out that this statistic is only indicative of the number of reports of sexual assault within the military, not the actual number of assaults that have taken place.

Last year, there were 3,191 reports of sexual assault within the military. Panetta suggests that the true estimate is around 19,000.

The fact that the percentage of reported sexual assaults has increased so dramatically over the past six years should be viewed as a good thing because an increase in reports does not mean an increase in sexual assaults. However, Trotta also condemned recent increases in funding to support programs that assist victims of sexual assault in the military. It is likely that without these programs, even more of the alleged 19,000 victims would be unheard, too ashamed or unwilling to step forward.

Trotta also fails to recognize that a significant number of the victims who haven’t stepped forward are probably men.

The army’s ranks are currently 86 percent men and 14 percent women; forced sodomy among men is probably much more common than the statistics of sexual assault reports reveal, due to the emasculation of the act.

Trotta’s remarks reflect the larger societal issue of blaming rape on victims.

Not only should Trotta quickly release an apology for her comments, but our culture as a whole needs to change so that victims are comfortable reporting these crimes and receiving the help they deserve from society.