Last spring, Doris Matthews chided our branch board for not doing enough to support the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund. At that meeting, the board agreed that monies from the English Gardens’ Flower-of-the-Month-Card program and the Mistletoe Mart would both be designated for LAF. (See page 13 of the Dearborn Branch Directory to learn more about the work of this particular fund.)
Meanwhile, Laura Marko who has just moved here from Norfolk, Virginia, contacted me recently via e-mail. She served in the Navy for five years and is a women’s studies major with a focus upon research on military sexual trauma. Happily for us, she will now be pursuing her studies at UM-D!
Part of her e-mail reads: “As a women’s studies major, I have been doing research on military sexual trauma (MST), presenting my work at a research symposium this past spring. I also attended the 2012 SWAN (Service Women’s Action Network) Summit on MST this year in DC., hosted a screening of “The Invisible War,” and met with fellow female veterans to discuss issues related to sexual assault and harassment in the military. So obviously the topic of women in the military is something that I am very passionate about.”
As you may know, AAUW has recently announced the launch of The Invisible War Action Campaign; so our contact with Laura Marko is fortuitous and serendipitous for our branch and UM-D.
So when AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist popped up and asked us to contact our representative about this issue, I felt compelled to act. I hope you, too, will consider trying to help ameliorate this matter by contacting your representative by using Two-Minute Activist. It’s fast, easy and efficient. Here’s a copy of my e-mail to Representative John Dingell.
August 20, 2012
The Honorable John D. Dingell
House of Representatives
2328 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-2215
Re: Support the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act
Dear Representative Dingell:
As your constituent, I join with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in asking you to cosponsor and actively support the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act (H.R. 3435).
Last year, there were more than 3,000 reported incidents of sexual assault in the military. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta estimates that due to stigmas victims face, the true number may be as high as 19,000! Ensuring adequate investigation and support for victims are both essential.
The STOP Act would create a primarily civilian oversight, response council and investigative office which would investigate and try to prevent sexual assault in the military. A Director of Military Prosecutions would enjoy independent authority from the chain of command and oversee prosecutions of sexual-related offenses committed by a member of the armed forces or refer an offense to courts-martial.
Stronger rules and better enforcement are critical to the health and safety of the men and women in our nation’s armed forces. Please become a cosponsor of the STOP Act. I look forward to hearing back from you.
Bill # H.R.3435 was originally sponsored by Jackie Speier (D-CA 12th). It now has 131 co-sponsors. Strangely, only one is a Republican. All the rest are Democrats. One can only wonder why any representative would not want to protect the troops who sacrifice so much to protect us.
An executive summary about this legislation from AAUW follows:
Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act or STOP Act – Establishes a Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Council, composed mainly of civilians, as an independent entity from the chain of command of the Department of Defense (DOD).
Directs the Council to: (1) appoint personnel to the Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office, and advise such Office; (2) appoint the Director of Military Prosecutions (Director); (3) review each request of the Director with respect to a case stemming from a sexual-related offense that has been referred to a military appellate court or to the Department of Justice (DOJ); and (4) submit to the Secretary of Defense, Congress, and the Attorney General a report on each Director request for referral to a higher court. Requires the Council to advise on the development of sexual assault reporting protocols, risk-reduction and response training, and policy.
Establishes within DOD the Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office, headed by an Executive Director, to undertake specified duties and responsibilities relating to the investigation, prevention, and reduction of sexual assault incidents within the Armed Forces. Requires the Office to establish protocols to ensure that all reports of sexual assault are taken out of the chain of command and reported directly to the Office.
Establishes the position of Director of Military Prosecutions, appointed by the Council, to have independent and final authority to oversee the prosecution of all sexual-related offenses committed by a member of the Armed Forces, and to refer such cases to trial by courts-martial.
Amends the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 to require the Secretary to implement a centralized database, known as the Military Sexual Registry, for the collection of information regarding sexual assaults within the military, including the nature of the assault, the victim, the offender, and the outcome of associated legal proceedings. Requires the Registry to be housed and maintained within the Office.
AAUW is committed to improving the way the military deals with sexual assault by ensuring victims receive adequate support for their case by helping support veteran-and-active-duty servicemen/servicewomen who are suing the Department of Defense. The group alleges that the DoD failed to investigate or prosecute their cases.
This is just one example of AAUW Legal Advocacy Funds in action!