by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Lavena Johnson was just 19-years old when she joined the military in 2005. She was trying to raise money for college, and like a lot of young people, she thought that her time in the military would improve her life, not end it.
But there is a secret that the military doesn’t share with recruits: A woman has a greater chance of being raped in the military than she has of being killed by enemy fire. I suspect that if Lavena had received this information, she would never have joined.
Lavena’s parents, several public officials and tens of thousands of people around the nation believe that Lavena was sexually assaulted and murdered on the day she died. Her autopsy report and photographic evidence revealed that Johnson had a black eye, broken nose, loose teeth and burned gen?tals. Also, the gunshot wound she received was inconsistent with the military’s story of how the young woman died.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the Department of Defense stood by its original conclusion that Johnson had died via suicide. Her family continues to fight, but the military is allowed to operate as its own sovereign entity, and somehow able to pretend that thousands of sexual assaults never happened.
The DOD has admitted that the number of sexual fassaults in the military increased six-percent last year, to 3,374. But based on anonymous surveys sent out to military personnel, this number only represents a fraction of the sexual assaults which take place in the military every year. According to the survey, 26,000 rapes happened in the military last year and there is no evidence that the number is starting to decrease.
Even sadder is that most of the rapes that are reported never end up receiving adequate prosecution. Out of the 3,374 incidents reported, just 302 of these cases went to trial, resulting in just 238 convictions. So, not only is sexual assault rampant in the military, less than 1% of all of these cases lead to anyone being convicted.
I don’t have to explain just how atrocious and embarrassing these statistics are. I also confess that I will never agree with my daughter deciding to enter the armed forces. Women fighting for their country should not be exposed to such horrific injustice, and it’s time that the military be held accountable.
Warn your daughters and tell them the truth: The military is no place for a woman.
Dr. Boyce Watkins co-stars in the Janks Morton Film “Hoodwinked,” starring Dr. Steve Perry, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu and Dr. Ivory Toldson. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.
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