Female Soldiers as Victims

Female Soldiers as Victims

Female Soldiers as Victims

Since 2000, the military profession in Germany has been fully open to women as well as men. Today, about 7 % of Bundeswehr soldiers are female, with 30 % in the medical service. This puts Germany in about the middle, compared to other nations: In Israel about 32 % of soldiers are women; in the United States and Russia, about 15 %. In Canada it is nearly 12 %, in France, Belgium, Britain, and the Netherlands about 10, in Spain and Portugal 6, Norway 5, Denmark 3, in Italy and Turkey about 1 %.

However, in no army in the world does the female sex attain the same rank as the male. The devaluation of female soldiers occurs at many levels, both symbolic and real. Particularly insidious are the sexual attacks: sexist jokes, groping, molestation, verbal abuse, rape. In virtually all armies, sexual assaults against women – and also against men who do not correspond to the accepted model of masculinity – occur far more frequently than in civilian life. Apparently, and much more so than in civilian life, there is social pressure in the military to prove oneself a “real man” by devaluing women. In a 1995 survey, over half – 55 % – of US female soldiers polled said they had been sexually harassed, while for men it was 14 %. However, the number of unreported cases is very high and very few cases end up in court. In wars, including the “War on Terror,” such cases regularly increase. According to the research of US Professor Helen Benedict, of the nearly 200,000 female soldiers deployed in the Middle East since 2001, almost three-quarters were sexually harassed by their comrades and almost one-third were raped.

Sources:

  • Karin Gabbert (2007): Gleichstellung – zu Befehl!, p. 33
  • Ruth Seifert, Christine Eifler (2003): Gender und Militär, Internationale Erfahrungen und Probleme, p. 24
  • Tagesspiegel, 3.6.2008

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