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Women at War Face Sexual Violence


More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War II.

 

Over 206,000 have served in the Middle East since March 2003, most of them in Iraq. Some 600 have been wounded, and 104 have died.

Yet, even as their numbers increase, women soldiers are painfully alone.

 

In Iraq, women still only make up one in 10 troops, and because they are not evenly distributed, they often serve in a platoon with few other women or none at all.

 

This isolation, along with the military's traditional and deep-seated hostility towards women, can cause problems that many female soldiers find as hard to cope with as war itself - degradation and sexual persecution by their comrades, and loneliness instead of the camaraderie that every soldier depends on for comfort and survival.

 

Between 2006 and 2008, some 40 women who served in the Iraq War spoke to me of their experiences at war. Twenty-eight of them had been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped while serving.


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This essay appeared was featured on the BBC news website and is adapted from the book, The Lonely Soldier.

Additional essays by Helen Benedict can be found at featurewell.com When you reach the site, just type "Helen Benedict" in the Advanced Search window. All essays are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission.