Photographer Gabriele Galimberti is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. From his project ‘GI Jane’s Other War‘. To see Gabriele’s body of work click on any image.
One out of every three American women soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan has been the victim of sexual abuse on the part of male US soldiers, ‘and 71 to 90% say they were the object of harassment by their male comrades-in-arms, subjected to constant denigration, insults and vulgar slurs.’ So writes Helen Benedict, Columbia University professor, in her book, The Lonely Soldier, the private war of women serving in Iraq, which has already unleashed fierce debate in the United States. In war zones, the ratio of woman soldiers is one to every ten men. “feeling as though you are a target 24 hours a day is not easy,’ Helen Benedict explains. ‘the message the men are sending is ‘we don’t respect you. we don’t want you here.’ then comes the physical assault, and finally rape.’ According to army statistics, ‘only’ o.83 out of every thousand women in war zones have been the victims of sexual abuse. However, the army also makes it clear that those are just the reported cases, and that 90% of rapes are kept quiet. Usually, the aggressors are the women’s superiors, and most often they are never brought to trial. In addition to all of this, it is also more difficult for women to gain access to health care, as only 14% of military clinics have departments dedicated to women’s health issues. With the assistance of American associations that provide help and psychological support to female veterans suffering from MST (military sexual trauma), I carried out extensive research for this project. I was able to establish contact with many of these women, veterans of the latest wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also of earlier wars, all of them with stories to tell of rape and sexual abuse. I met with these women, interviewed them, and photographed them.
Regina Vasquez, born 3/12/1978
Regina served honorably in the Marine Corps as a Transportation Specialist. While training for her job she was drugged and raped by two Marines. The platoon Sergeant of those two Marines supplied ecstasy for them to use on Regina by putting it in her glass. After the incident, Regina tried to report it, the same platoon Sergeant threatened her by telling her she would lose everything and her life. Regina became scared and decided not to tell but rather keep what happened to her a secret which later developed into post-traumatic stress disorder from experiencing military sexual trauma. The same platoon Sergeant had video tapes of woman getting raped and sold them for his own profit.
While serving overseas at her first duty station, in Okinawa, Japan, Regina endured sexual harassment and gender discrimination when she became pregnant the harassment escalated. Despite her needs as a pregnant woman, she received no prenatal care whatsoever, as well as being constantly harassed sexually by other military man who knew about her pregnancy state. In an advanced pregnancy state, when she was medically ordered in bed, no one brought her food, and each time she walked out of bed to get food on her own, she was written down by the other military man on duty. No one cared that she was pregnant. Exposed to high levels of stress, as well as chemicals she was in contact with while carrying out her duty, her pregnancy was severely affected and her son was born with cerebral palsy, a condition which needs important treatments. When she was discharged from the military, the chance for a claim ceased to be valid because of the statute of limitations. As a result, the government, who would have been held responsible for these events if the mother had any other job other than being in the military, is not offering any support for her son’s treatments.