“The Invisible War,” a documentary unveiling thousands of reported sexual assaults in committed in the U.S. military every year, will hit theatres on Friday.
The documentary, by film-makers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, has already made impact in Washington, D.C. The movie examines the rape cases within the U.S. armed forces and the government’s handling to those reported cases.
“It’s a systemic problem because the military, the Pentagon and the Department of Defense up until now have not taken on this issue and gone after these perpetrators. They’re the people who rape again and again, and they have not gone after them with the same will that they fight a war. These are really enemies within and they need to go after them and take care of these people," said Dick.
The U.S. government has become aware of the problem. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the procedure of reported rapes will be changed and probed in the military. Panetta also spoke to the film’s executive producers as the film screening was partly responsible for his decision.
Rape victims in the military are finding it difficult to report their assaults as there is no court to take the matter to. “The Invisible War” suggests that in most cases, the commanding officer -- when informed of the incident -- has the responsibility to either follow-up on the charge or ignore it.
And that’s only the start of the problem for potential victims, said Ziering.
“When you get raped in civilian culture, the next day you don’t necessarily have to report to work with your rapist. If you’re raped in the military, you have to go to work the next day. Your rapist has not yet been charged; he’s usually a comrade, a buddy or a higher ranking official. You have to keep on working with him. That’s very psychologically traumatizing and damaging.”
Dick said that he ultimately believes that the end to rape in the military begins with the education of all soldiers; much like the U.S. did during the civil rights movement when soldiers were educated about segregation, and how it helped to vastly reduce racial problems within the troops.
“These men are young, impressionable and they can be taught these values just like all the other core values the military teaches and then it will not only make us stronger for a stronger and better military, but it will make for a better society as well.”
“The Invisible War” opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday.