US Senator McSally, an Air Force veteran, says she was raped by a superior officer

During a hearing by the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel about prevention and response to sexual assault in the military, Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., recounts her own experience while serving as a colonel in the Air Force, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP)
Updated 07 March 2019

US Senator McSally, an Air Force veteran, says she was raped by a superior officer

  • Sexual assault and harassment in the US military is largely under-reported and came under renewed scrutiny two years ago after a scandal involving Marines sharing nude photos of women

WASHINGTON: US Senator Martha McSally, the first female combat pilot in the US Air Force, said on Wednesday she had been raped by a superior officer but did not report it because she blamed herself and did not trust the system.
“The perpetrators abuse their position of power in profound ways, and in one case I was preyed upon and then raped by a superior officer,” McSally, an Arizona Republican, said during a Senate hearing on sexual assault in the military.
“But unlike so many brave survivors, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted,” she added. “Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless.”
McSally did not identify her attacker.
Another member of the subcommittee, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth who is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and lost both legs in combat in the Iraq war, said the military “has utterly failed at handling sexual assault.”
Sexual assault and harassment in the US military is largely under-reported and came under renewed scrutiny two years ago after a scandal involving Marines sharing nude photos of women online came to light.
In fiscal 2017, the most recent period for which statistics are available, the US Department of Defense received 6,769 reports of sexual assault involving service members as victims or subjects of criminal investigation. That represented a nearly 10 percent increase in reported cases from the previous year, according to a Pentagon report last year.
’Stayed silent for many years’
McSally, speaking at the Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing, said: “I stayed silent for many years, but later in my career as the military grappled with scandals and their wholly inadequate responses, I felt the need to let some people know: I too was a survivor.
“I was horrified at how my attempt to share generally my experiences were handled,” she said, adding that she came close to leaving the Air Force after 18 years.
“Like many victims, I felt the system was raping me all over again.”

Air Force spokeswoman Captain Carrie Volpe said in a statement: “We are appalled and deeply sorry for what Senator McSally experienced and we stand behind her and all victims of sexual assault. We are steadfast in our commitment to eliminate this reprehensible behavior and breach of trust in our ranks.”
In a separate incident, authorities in Georgia said on Wednesday they had arrested three members of the US Navy on charges of rape and aggravated sodomy.
The men were taken into custody following a report of a sexual assault on Sunday at a party in a private residence, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
McSally’s disclosure came less than two months after Senator Joni Ernst, an Army veteran, said publicly that she had been raped in college by someone she knew and that her ex-husband had physically abused her. An attorney for her former husband declined to comment at the time.
Ernst, a Republican, has in the past worked with Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to combat sexual assault in the military.
McSally, 52, who served two terms in the US House of Representatives, was appointed in December by Arizona’s governor to take over the Senate seat once held by the late John McCain. A special election will be held in 2020 to fill the remaining two years of McCain’s six-year term.
In November’s congressional elections, McSally lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the contest for Arizona’s other US Senate seat, formerly held by Republican Jeff Flake.


UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

The Royal Navy has been deployed as recently as January 2019 in an attempt to reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving to the UK via the English Channel. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2020

UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

  • French parliamentarian called the plans a “political measure” that would not help the situation.
  • Roughly 4,000 people have made the dangerous trip from France to the UK so far this year.

LONDON: The UK has announced it will use the military to prevent migrants entering the country from France via the English Channel, but the plans have drawn criticism from French politicians and rights groups in the UK.

More than 4,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far this year, and many of those have done so in small and overburdened boats.

Responding to the escalating number of people attempting the journey, the Home Office officially requested last week that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) assist the Border Force in its duties.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her department was “working to make this route unviable” and announced on Sunday the appointment of a former Royal Marine to manage the government’s response to the crossings.

In response to Patel’s request, the MoD announced on Monday that it would send a Royal Air Force plane with spotters on board to assist the Border Force in its operations in the English Channel.

But the issue has caused tension between the UK and France.

The French National Assembly member for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont, slammed the decision to use the military to prevent crossings as a useless “political measure.”

He said: “What is the British navy going to do if it sees a small boat? Is it going to shoot the boat? Is it going to enter French waters? It’s a political measure to show some kind of muscle but technically speaking it won’t change anything.”

Paris has also requested that London provides £30 million to fund French efforts to prevent migrants from attempting the dangerous crossing from their side.

Patel’s decision to use the military to prevent Channel crossings has also drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

Bella Sankey, a barrister and director of Detention Action said: “The home secretary’s hysterical plea to the navy is as irresponsible as it is ironic. Pushbacks at sea are unlawful and would threaten human lives.

“No civilised country can even consider this, let alone a country with a tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution,” she added.

Migration has long been a hot button issue in British politics, and this will not be the first time authorities have used the military to enforce migration policies.

In January 2019, the Royal Navy sent three ships to the Channel to prevent migrant crossings, saying at the time that the deployment would “help prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey.”