"It is almost impossible to escape your tormentors in the ... predatory culture of the military." - Chris Hedges
“Women are the fastest growing population among veterans, making up 8 percent of the Armed Forces. However, the Department of Defense estimates that one in four women who join the armed services will be raped or assaulted, but that only about 10 percent of such incidents are ever reported.” - Rep. Jon Runyan, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.
"If you serve in the U.S. military and you rape or sexually assault a fellow service member, chances are you won't be punished. In fact, you have an estimated 86.5% chance of keeping your crime a secret and a 92% chance of avoiding a court-martial. - Democratic U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier"
dir. Kirby Dick
Review By Greg Klymkiw
America loves rape. It's used as a weapon to both violate and steal. It's a symbol and an instrument of power. It is often applied in war, "diplomacy" and the propping up of puppet regimes. America is a country that rapes other countries of their wealth and natural resources (and to benefit a small faction of corporate interests) under the guise of protecting the values of democracy and freedom.
When America goes to war, its boys need to fulfill their manly desires for power, violence and subjugation in order to properly serve their country (and their own sick desires), so they happily rape whomever they like amongst civilian populations or partake in various exploitative offshoots akin to rape when civilian women of all ages are sold for sex - a direct result of poverty, much of it caused by devastation at the hands of American forces.
An even more insidious form of rape - utilized during the mayhem of Baltic countries and in even more recent history, the war on terror in the Middle East, is the preponderance of sexual slavery rings offering kidnapped Eastern European women as receptacles for the semen of brave American fighting men - the said slavery which is tolerated (and even welcomed) by American officials.
Here, even more innocents are raped.
Perhaps the most appalling and shocking of all rape cases can be found in the hundreds of thousands of sexual assaults perpetrated by American soldiers upon American soldiers.
This is not a typographical error.
Kirby Dick's harrowing and powerful new film, The Invisible War, presents a shocking portrait of rape within America's own armed forces and the general acceptance and covering up of these actions.
The film focuses on several women and men who all suffered rape at the hands of their fellow soldiers and in many cases, their superior officers. Dick's approach is simple - he lets the victims speak for themselves, buttressing their horrendous experiences with a few salient facts, along with interviews from those trying to fight this injustice and those who remain blind to it, and as such, are complicit in these heinous crimes.
The victims seek compensation, acknowledgment, justice, sweeping change and/or medical support. We follow their attempt to mount a class-action suit that results in a ludicrous Supreme Court decision that when one decides to serve in the military, rape is, quite simply, an "occupational hazard".
And no wonder. The statistics do not lie. There are two times more cases of rape in the military than there are in civilian existence and a huge majority of recruits are serial rapists who have already committed rape as civilians.
Dick's instinct to keep his camera primarily on the victims and as necessary, punctuating it with some inane comment from bureaucrats who blame not the system or perpetrators, but the victims, might be viewed by some as flouting the standards of objective journalism.
There are not two sides to this story, or rather, only one side that counts.
If anything, the brave people who tell their stories are the real heroes of America's military (not unlike the American people in general who in recent years have been swindled and decimated by the rich).
The litany of horrors presented by these women and men is so disturbing that it will be impossible for anyone to forget their stories.
A woman is so badly beaten during her rape that she requires massive bone replacement, suffers pain that radiates constantly throughout her entire body, is unable to ingest anything but soft foods, is in so much physical and psychological pain that she can only watch from the windows as her child plays outside and among numerous other painful indignities, her quality of life is diminished to almost nil because of the post traumatic stress brought on - not only by the rape, but the way in which she, the victim, was treated by the government.
Result: Denial of medical treatment after several years to receive a response to her claim. To add insult to injury, she is covered for a staggering number of prescription drugs which, after researching them, she discovers that the combinations of said drugs are designed to cause death in those who continue to take them as instructed. Both the military and the medical profession just want her to shut up and go away - permanently. Her assailant remains free and is accruing full benefits and pension.
This is but one story. The movie tells many more - all equally horrific. Hundreds of people were interviewed. All the stories were the same. And beyond the parameters of the film itself - hundreds of thousands of such stories exist.
Within the movie, we're directly confronted by the disgraceful reality that the war against the vulnerable is never-ending. One victim is ordered to drink copious amounts of alcohol then raped. Another is repeatedly gang-raped within a remote Arctic outpost. Another is forced to run a gauntlet of soldiers through an isolated hotel corridor where she is abused sexually while trying to get to her room. Yet another is deflowered of her virginity. Others are threatened with murder if they report their rape. One young male soldier is struck from behind, held down, beaten and gang-sodomized. He doesn't, to this day, even know who his assailants were and if he had reported the assault, word would have spread that he submitted to sodomy and was, in fact, gay (though he is not) - which would have led to even more physical/sexual abuse.
In many cases, the victims are ordered to submit to being placed in positions where they KNOW they will be raped.
Those who are raped have their names passed on to other soldiers and she is raped again and again.
The individuals and agencies within the military charged with taking these assaults "seriously" do little more than defend their agency's "success" (which is ultimately the best most administrators of bureaucracies do) or worse, place all the responsibility upon the victims for their predicament.
One female victim is admonished for dressing provocatively. Her come-rape-me attire is a standard issue uniform.
Internal ad campaigns chide female rape victims for going anywhere on base alone and without a "buddy".
Many of the rapists platonically "seduce" their victims, build up trust-levels as big brother or father figures, THEN rape them.
The most unbelievable outrage is that women must report sexual assault to their commanding officer who, once an investigation is finished (and usually botched or slanted in favour of the perpetrator) is also the person designated to order the case to trial (though they are not qualified to do so). Usually, the commanding officer is friends with the perpetrator and in a shocking number of cases, is the perpetrator himself.
Adding insult to injury, the vast majority of victims are denied justice and, in turn, charged themselves with any number of ludicrous violations such as adultery (in cases where their rapist is a married man) and a variety of conduct unbecoming charges. The result is the stripping of rank and/or fines and/or more abuse as details of their actions are rendered "public" and/or a dishonourable discharge (leading to a loss of benefits and pension).
If we finally witness one positive outcome to this barbarism, it is revealed that two days after a single screening of this film in 2012 to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, he ordered that direct commanding officers be removed from the process and that a Special Victims Unit be created.
The fact that in 2011 there were nearly 23,000 cases of rape in the military suggests that Panetta's immediate actions, while a step in the right direction is a mere baby step.
Western Civilization is clearly on the brink of collapse. While America is leading the charge, my fellow Canadians needn't be too complacent about it. It's happening here too. The case of the decorated cross-dressing serial killer Col. Russell Williams is, no doubt, but the tip of the iceberg in a country where such heinous actions tend to be buried more benignly. Americans seem more up-front about their disgraceful behaviour, which, as per usual, makes Canadian indiscretions seem all the more insidious.
The Invisible War is a powerful film. It is a call to action, but it also makes the best case to discourage pretty much anyone (of both sexes) from joining the military. It's a perfect environment for psychopaths to carry out their desires under the safe umbrella of national defence. And national defence, is synonymous with serving the interests of the rich - the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing.
"The Invisible War" is playing theatrically in Canada via Vagrant Films. In Toronto it is playing at the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas. For further information and showtimes, visit the theatre's website HERE.