Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012)—By Frako Loden

The Invisible War (USA: Kirby Dick, 2012) (In theatres June 22)—The statistics that bolster the shocking subject matter of this documentary—an epidemic of sexual assault in the US military—threaten to overwhelm any criticism of its presentation. The numbers are simply astonishing. For example, 15 percent of all military recruits have raped someone in the past. Since sexual assault is a crime of repetition and obsession and not taken seriously by higher-ups, the military is a "target-rich environment" for repeat offenders. Over 30 percent of all female veterans are raped, but 80 percent of the sexual assaults are never reported. Why not? Because in many cases the officer to report to and the rapist are one and the same man. The film profiles soldiers who have reported and have even filed a lawsuit, amply demonstrating that trying to make perpetrators accountable and to recover the monetary and therapeutic costs are akin to a second rape. These women (and some men) are on the frontlines of a hidden war that can only be described as a self-destructive conspiracy given the eerily consistent patterns of these crimes. Kirby Dick avoids linking rape with military ideology and instead focuses on its criminality. His suggestion that adjudication be taken out of the hands of the military brass and placed with civilian authorities drew protests during the film's San Francisco International Film Festival Q&A from members of the audience who think civilian jurisdiction is no better.

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