Posts Tagged Sexual Harassment


This link from, today’s Miami Herald, is provided without comment. I certainly couldn’t say it better:

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This Presidential Election Year, perhaps more than prior ones, the political demagogues have been out in full-force, attacking undocumented immigrants—both current and ones that arrived even decades ago. Rather than consider the actual situation and trying to develop some sort of coherent solution, they are using Immigrants as the target at which to spew their hatred and racism.  Perhaps they even wish to maintain the status quo for the future election cycles!

Starting from the idea of deporting 11 million people—if they could actually round them all up— would take many, many years and cost trillions of dollars.  It reminds me of the story about a small child, digging a hole at the edge of the shore, and then taking bucket after bucket of sea water, trying to put the ocean into their small hole.  Starting with impossible goals just never works!

The people who come to any developed country are seeking a better life for them and their families.  Just like you or I, they would want a job that pays a decent wage, a home, good health care, and an education that will prepare their children for the future world, which they will encounter.  We have numerous shuttered military bases at which questionable immigrants can be segregated, vetted, and they could perform most of the labor around the camps.

There are two linked articles, which I hope you will read.  One is about 14 year-old Elena (no last name given) who, along with her family, had been stopped at the southern border of Mexico, and they are waiting to learn whether they will be deported back home, or not.  The second article, about 19 year-old Larissa Martinez, is a much happier one where, during her high school Valedictory Speech, she revealed that she is an undocumented immigrant.

Back to the first vignette:  In the Central American nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the drug gangs cannot be controlled by the police.  Young children are forced to be lookouts, young girls have no choice but to become gang member’s “girl friends,” which means a life of being a courier and a mistress. Refusal can mean death—both for them and their family.  Nicolas Kristof’s column, from the NY Times, is linked as follows:

Her mother brought Larissa Martinez, along with her younger sister, from Mexico, across the Rio Grande when she was 13 years old.  They were seeking refuge with family members, who were legal immigrants, in Texas.  Her mother applied several times to be placed on the waiting list for legal status; however, that takes 15 years.  Also, Larissa arrived too late to have qualified for the “DREAMer Program,” which enables qualified students to avoid deportation.  She worked hard in school, however, and graduated Number One in her high school class.  Larissa will leave for New Haven, Connecticut—Yale University—with a full scholarship, in August.  Her story, from Kera News, is linked as follows:

These two stories show the younger sides of what some immigrants have gone through; however, I believe that it is evident that these parents love their children and were willing to face perilous journeys, perhaps after weighing them against what their children’s lives would be back home.  No matter where you were born in the so-called developed world, you can realize that its was only a happenstance that we were born into a life of safety and a worthwhile future.  These children were not.  Would you trade?

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Just this past December, Japan passed a new state secrets law.  It provides for up to ten years in prison for a government employee who shares “designated” state secrets, and five years for accomplices.  Critics claim that this law could pertain to journalists who publish leaked materials.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, denies that there is any attempt to deny press freedoms.   He says that he would resign if there was.  Really?  The point is that, as laws evolve, they might be interpreted differently.

Japan seems to have always been at odds with the outside world on somewhat of a public relations basis. It has never admitted, other than superficially, the atrocities that it had committed during World War II. At least, nowhere near the extent that Germany has.  Also, it infuriates several of its neighbors when one prime minister after another visits the Yasukuni Shrine, at which many war dead are enshrined, to include officials who were executed by the War Tribunal, to include former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. In the Shinto Religion, it should be noted that all sins are forgiven after death. But, when I wonder about the state secrets law, I keep returning to the“comfort women” issue.

During World War II, the Japanese Army took many Chinese and Korean Women hostage and used them as sex slaves–in their native countries, and even brought some back to Japan.  Here’s where recent journalistic events cause me to wonder:  What is Japan hiding?  They are trying to hard…maybe, to cover up the truth.  The idea of women being used by the Japanese Army for sexual pleasure has been well-documented for decades.

Recently, the left-leaning Asahi Shinbun retracted several stories about comfort women that were published in the 1980s and 1990s.  Besides other newspapers, even the right-leaning Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan’s largest daily, and which is generally supportive of Mr. Abe, apologized for using the words “sex slaves” in referring to comfort women.

It just seems that Japan is trying much too hard to defend what was done by its government and army seventy decades before.  Wouldn’t a well-formulated law have considered 25-to-35 year articles to be old news?  Also, wouldn’t a logical person expect that such stories–incorrect or not–would be grandfathered in, with regard to new legislation?   In fact, did anyone even know that those stories existed, that is, until they were forcibly brought to light?


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This past March 26th, Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, appointed Rear Admiral (two stars) Margaret “Peg” Klein as his Special Advisor for “…Military Professionalism”, basically with regard to ‘’Ethics, Character and Competence, in all activities, and at every level of Command”.  In that capacity, she reports directly to Secretary Hagel.  Admiral Klein also works with the various individual service Secretaries, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That’s quite a pretentious “Job Description”; but, I believe that Admiral Klein’s job was created to take some of the Heat off the Defense Department with regard to the on-going Sexual Harassment in the Military.   Since there appears to have the lack of reported accomplishments along these lines since then, I can only assume two things: Admiral Klein was directed to work within the existing Chains of Command–and perhaps is confronting roadblocks–and that her role is somewhat of a “CYA” (cover your ass) assignment, within the Defense Department.

In the past, Military Commanders appear to have been handling reports of Sexual Harassment offhandedly, similarly to how it is done in many Third-World Countries:  Blame the Victim!  Allegedly, only one-third of such Crimes are even reported and, in many cases, the Commanders have absolved the Perpetrators.  Sadder yet, in several cases, even General Officers have been found guilty of Sexual Harassment and given little more than a wrist slap as punishment.

For the past year or two, there has been a group of Female U.S. Senators–from both Parties--who have championed the need for stronger Legislation in Congress.  Senator Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) has taken the lead on the Issue.  An article from the Washington Post reports the case of Air Force Captain Maribel Jarzabek, an attorney assigned to a new Special Victims Unit to represent victims of Sexual Assault, is linked as follows:

Captain Jarzabek cited, in a Comment on Sen. Hilibrand’s Facebook Page, that she agreed with the Bill, which was proposed regarding Sexual Harassment in the Military.  Although that Legislation had received a majority of Votes, it did not have the required 60 to clear a procedural hurdle.  In the Facebook Comment, Capt. Jarzabek suggests that the Defense Department claims that the Program is a Success, when it really isn’t.  She had been advised by Senior Officers that she was too client-oriented, and she believes that both she and her clients have been intimidated.  The link for her Comment is as follows:

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a person serving in uniform is subject to disciplinary action if they report problems outside of Military Channels, and especially if they take it to Congress.  Given the fact that reporting Cases of Sexual Harassment through Channels seems to have often been dismissed, the actual number of assaults are assumed to have been even much higher.  And now, with Captain Maribel Jarzabek’s assertion, she believes to have not been taken seriously–and perhaps even intimidated–for advocating for her Clients, as well.

It is time that all Reports of Sexual Harassment or Assault be taken out of the Command Structure.  There should be an external Reporting Structure for the respective Special Victims Units in the various Services, and going directly to the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Office at the Pentagon.  The Commanders should, however, be held accountable for what goes on under their Authority.  Annual Performance Reports should weigh such Statistics quite heavily, with future Assignments and Promotions partially based on them.  Commanders should also be disciplined accordingly for not following through.

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About a year ago, the on-going problem of Sexual Harassment in the Military was raised to a higher level–both in Congress and the White House.  These crimes–committed against both Men and Women–were first brought to public attention, in 1991, for crimes committed at a convention of Navy and Marine Pilots–The “Tailhook Association”.  Well, yesterday something happened that shows that the Sexual Harassment issue might be finally getting some powerful recognition at the Pentagon

The Senate has had a number of Committee Meetings to discuss the causes, effects and a potential solutions to the problem.  The energy behind this effort has been provided by a bi-partisan group of Female Senators led by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).  Unfortunately, at least so far, military commanders have successfully retained “command and control” over the issue.  But, will that continue?

It appears like the Good Ole Boys–both in Congress and the Pentagon–are continuing to fight any change from the status quo.  This is why the recent case of Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair has been followed so closely.  Gen. Sinclair was accused of forcing sex on a Female Captain, his long-term mistress.  Although he faced significant jail time, he got-off with a reprimand, a fine and forced retirement.  So, how is the Pentagon Brass going to correct this problem when they cannot even control themselves?

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel appointed Read Admiral Margaret “Peg” Klein as his Special Advisor for Military Professionalism.  Admiral Klein will report directly to Mr. Hagel with regard to Ethics, Character and Competence, in all activities, and at every level of command.

She will also work directly with the (individual) service Secretaries regarding the Defense Department’s focus on ethics, character and competence.  Her advisory duties will include all activities at every level of command, and pertain to an uncompromising culture of accountability, Hagel said in a statement announcing Klein’s selection.  She will also coordinate the activities of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The linked notice on the U. S. Department of Defense, is as follows:

It looks to me as if Secretary Hagel is not quite ready to remove control of the Sexual Harassment problem from the commanders; however, by establishing a new position reporting directly to him, he is firmly telegraphing that this might be their last chance. Defense is just another example of a bureaucracy which, perhaps, needs to move slowly at first.  Now, the commanders know that Secretary Hagel is definitely engaged.

NOTE:  A Brigadier General has One-Star and a Rear Admiral has Two.


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Pope Francis, on Saturday, appointed eight members to a special commission to look into Sexual Abuse within the Church. The linked article, from the International NY Times, appears to be somewhat vague,  It doesn’t seem to list an official Mission Statement, and whether the Commission will report directly to the Pope, or to one of his key advisors.

The (as yet) eight-member commission includes just three priests, and four of the five lay members are Women.  Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, is a central figure of the Church’s response to the sexual abuse problem in the U. S., and one of the eight Cardinals advising Francis on Vatican reform.  Of the two other priests, one is from Argentina and one is from Germany.  So, I assume that Cardinal O’Malley will have the Pope’s ear in this matter.  Let’s hope!

The most interesting appointment is Marie Collins, an Irish Woman who was abused as a Child.  She had become a national activist in basically holding the Church’s feet to the fire with regard to sexual abuse.  In a telephone interview, she said: “…there’s a lot of expectations for this commission, particularly from survivors.”  She went on to say: “…the commission’s priorities should include requiring dioceses to report abuse to civil authorities, responding to victims with a pastoral and not an adversarial legalistic approach, and holding bishops who covered up accountable. “Until bishops who protected abusers are removed, it’s very hard to have confidence’”, she said.

The other lay members include: a retired specialist in child and adolescent psychology from France; a mental health specialist from UK; a canon lawyer from Italy and a former Polish Ambassador to the Vatican.  Other than the one priest from Argentina, the other members are all from Europe and the U. S.  The commission members will name additional members, to include from Developing Countries, where sexual abuse in the Church is still considered taboo.

Now, commissions can be empowered to actually accomplish something, or they can merely end-up as having been much ado about nothing.  The inclusion of Cardinal O’Malley provides some hope and the comments by Ms. Collins appear to provide somewhat of an early, but well thought-out, roadmap.  But, any recommendations will still have to wind their way through the Vatican Bureaucracy–the Roman Curia.  So, let’s hope that Francis can set them on a fast-track.

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The Military has always been a male bastion.  When I left the Army, at the end of 1969 (Dark Ages, huh?), the only roles for Women were either as Nurses or Clerk-Typists, with the latter normally being in Headquarters, back in the U. S.  But, things have certainly changed.  Women have taken-on many more roles–even in Combat Zones.

The problem of Sexual Harassment has definitely grown–especially as the role and number of Women in the military has risen considerably.  Sexual Harassment isn’t just directed at Females; but at Males, as well, but to a lesser degree. Obviously, any sort of Harassment–Sexual or Otherwise–is wrong and, oftentimes, difficult for many victims to recover from.  Unfortunately, this has been going on for quite some time–and getting worse.

In such an environment, however, the majority of the Military Police and Legal System also tends to be mostly Men. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (R-NY) is leading the Congressional Task Force that is fighting to change the current system. Only about one-sixth of the Sexual Harassment incidents are not reported since many victims don’t seem to feel that anything would come from doing so.  That means that we do not even know how bad this problem really is.

The linked article, from the Knoxville News, seems to confirm the complacency that many Military Commanders seem to display,  This problem has been overdue for harsher measures, and I believe that now is the time to act.

Remember that many Military Installations–especially those overseas–operate like small, self-contained cities.  That might indicate that, in many instances, the Victims  know the Offenders–or identification might normally be easier due to the smaller number of people on base.

As you can see from that article, many offenders in some units have been given only minimal punishment, and have rarely gone through the Legal System.  In recent years, some of the Acts have even been committed by Senior Officers, and actual Courts-Martial sentences have been overturned by Base Commanders who were not even present at the Trial.  It looks like the Good Ole Boy System seems to be working just fine–for them.  But, they seem to be merely sweeping Harassment under the rug.  But, that doesn’t solve the problem–and can detract from a unit’s morale.

Most of the Military Brass at the Pentagon–including Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel–seem to be fighting to keep control of the problems with Sexual Harassment in the hands of the Commanders.  Well, why would they want to change it?  But, the lack of action has been going on since the “Tail Hook” Scandal (Navy/Marine Pilots) in 1991.

Since the Commanders in the field generally haven’t chosen to take the necessary corrective action, it is time for the Pentagon Brass to take the issue of Sexual Harassment totally out of the Command Structure; however, leave Commanders with a definite responsibility for any acts committed, as follows:

1.  All Sexual Harassment accusations should immediately be transferred to the respective Judge Advocate General (Legal) Staff of each Branch of the Service, to include the Coast Guard.  This may seem like an unrealistic duplication; however, the military has numerous situations where they have direct reporting responsibility to one Chain-of-Command (in this case, the JAG), with a “dotted-line” responsibility to the local Commander.

2.  The number of Sexual Harassment cases within a Command should become a part of each Commander’s–at every level–Annual Performance Revue.  Perhaps, when Promotions and Duty Assignments are in the mix, Senior Officers might finally get the message.

3.  Appoint a FEMALE Two-Star Flag Officer (General or Admiral) in the Pentagon to assume complete responsibility for all Sexual Harassment Cases throughout all of the combined Military Jurisdictions.  She could report directly to the Joint Chiefs, also with dotted-line reporting to the Secretary of Defense.

I believe that a Woman who is empowered to take-over the adjudication responsibilities, with direct reporting to the Very Top, will be empowered to finally clean this mess up.  Local Commanders should still retain responsibility for what happens on their Watch and, knowing that their success in this regard will definitely effect their Career, will have a more effective result.

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