In the United States Air Force, sexual assault has become at the forefront of Congress’ attention.
That’s right. Not the sequestration, budget cuts, defense bills or military benefits. Congressional leaders have been adamant on removing Commander’s discretion, effectively taking the chain of command out of military sexual assault cases. Sexual assault is in itself a moral issue. One ethical issue that appears in the decision of Congress is what is driving the decision: the fear of retaliation.The 35% jump in sexual assault victims in two years “indicated that many victims stay silent out of fear that they could face retribution or indifference if they speak up” (Dann, 2013). Fear of reprisal plagues many businesses and people can receive retaliatory consequences for speaking up about ethically troubling issues in the workplace. Retaliation for whistle blowing has been reported to include demotion, reprimand, threats, rejection by peers, pressure to resign, and being treated like a traitor (Danis, Farrar, Grady, Taylor, O’Donnell, Soeken ; Ulrich, 2007).
Retaliation can come from peers as well as superiors. Ethical Issue In a 2012 Department of Defense survey, among the one-third of women who reported sexual-assault allegations to a military authority, 62% suffered retaliation for speaking up. The reprisals included professional reprisal, social reprisal, administrative action and a combination of professional reprisal, social reprisal, administrative actions and/or punishments.Reprisal against a victim is the opposite of what should happen when a crime is reported. In a case of a Marine Private, she faced the combined etaliation mentioned above.
Her rank was reduced, pay decreased, and she faced an administrative discharge—all on top of being forced to work alongside her attacker for a year after she alleged he raped her to a female superior, whose immediate reaction was to laugh at her (Schwellenbach, 2013). The Military Whistleblower Protection Act, Title 10 U. S. C. § 1034, as amended, prohibits any person from taking, withholding, or threatening any personnel action against a member of the Armed Forces as reprisal for making or preparing any protected communications.
A protected communication is any lawful communication to a Member of Congress or an Inspector General, as well as any communication made to a person or organization designated under competent regulations to receive such communications, which a member of the Armed Forces reasonably believes reports a violation of law or regulation (including sexual harassment, unlawful discrimination, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial or specific danger to public health or safety).Information Needed Information needs to be gathered in order to make an informed analysis of this ethical issue. The effectiveness of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988 will need to be looked upon, as this Act was made in order to protect our military from retaliation for lawful communication. Whether victims in fact do fear reprisal from superiors and peers will also need to be verified.In order to make an informed analysis, the probability of whether removing the chain of command from sexual assault cases would in fact eradicate or reduce fear of reprisal from the victims without degrading the authority of the chain of command. Conclusion Sexual assault is a complex topic.
The decision to remove Commander’s discretion so that they are no longer involved in sexual assault cases may damage and undermine the unit cohesiveness and the ability of commanders to maintain good order and discipline within the ranks they have been charged to be accountable over.However, any victim should not be reprimanded for reporting a crime committed against them. Having the fear of losing your career over reporting an incident that will haunt you for the rest of your life makes for a tough decision.
“What the victims have said is that they might be able to survive the rape or the assaults but what they have a difficult time doing is surviving how they are treated after they report it.