By NYLA JAFRI
Nations are often blessed people willing to fight to protect their nation, whether directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, these people who serve their country are not always treated with respect and given the dignity they deserve.
Martha McSally, the current senator of Arizona and first female fighter pilot to have ever fought in combat, disclosed in a statement during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Military Sexual Assault that during her 25 years in the Air Force, her superior had “preyed upon and then raped” her. At the time, she had not reported this incident due to self blame and a lack of trust in the system, but in her speech at the congressional meeting on March 6, she stated that “…later in my career, as the military grappled with the scandals, and their wholly inadequate responses, I felt the need to let some people know I too was a survivor.”
Despite having faced such trauma and injustice, McSally refused to quit and used such an incident as motivation to “be a voice from within the ranks for women — and then in the House and now the Senate.” She also stated her experience witnessing “…so many weaknesses in the processes involving sexual assault prevention, investigation, and adjudication… It motivated me to make recommendations to Air Force leaders, shaped my approach as a commander and informed my advocacy for change while I remained in the military and since I have been in Congress.”
Through the spreading news of this unfortunate incident, Air Force Captain Carrie J. Volpe responded with the following statement:
“The criminal actions reported today by Senator McSally violate every part of what it means to be an Airman… 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.”
The violation of human rights may committed everyday, but through survivors such as McSally, awareness is increasing. With awareness comes a decrease in behavior that is condemned and a better world, bit by bit. By sharing her story, McSally shows that it is okay to report and protect oneself, that the one at fault is not the victim but the perpetrator.
If anyone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, a hotline that can be used is 800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org