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Kirsten Gillibrand Speaks out Against Rape in the MIlitary on the Daily Show

Watch Gillibrand explain why urgent change is necessary to protect America's service members from each other.
 
 
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New York State Senator Kirsten Gillibrand appeared on the Daily Show last night to explain to John Oliver why she is sponsoring legislation to remove rape and sexual assault investiagtions in the military from the chain of command. An estimated 26,000 members of the US military were victims of sexual assault last year, and less than three percent were ever prosecuted. As Gillibrand notes in the segment, more than half of victims are men.

"I couldn't believe how these men and women who want nothing but to defend our country, to stand for our values and even die for our country were being subjected to this, not by an enemy abroad, but within their own ranks," Gillibrand told Oliver. "I was so heartbroken that they even said things like 'I could survive the rape but what I couldn't survive was the commanding officers, the people in my ranks, not having my back, not believing me.'"

Oliver asked Gillibrand about the military's "territorial" nature and reluctance to allow outsiders to weigh in on problems.

"They don't want change," said Gillibrand, who also referenced historical resistence to integration, women, and the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the military. "They use the same narrative, they keep saying you can't possibly do that. It will somehow undermine good order and discipline."

"Well, I have news for the military: 26,000 sexual assaults and rapes a year is not good order and discipline," Gillibrand said to applause from the audience.

Gillibrand is advocating for legislation to alter the means by which sexual assault is reported and investigated. 

"What victims tell us is that they don't trust the chaim of command...so the problem is clear," she said. "What we want to create is an objective review by a trained military prosecutor -- someone who is actually a lawyer, who is trained to weigh evidence and make the fundamental deicsion: does the case go forward?"

"Right now, the person who is going to decide her case is her boss, who may well know her assailant, who knows her. There's no objectivity," said Gillibrand. Gillibrand has 46 Senators openly supporting her policy change, and needs at least 51 for it to pass. 

Watch both segments below:

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

 
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