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An investigative and powerfully emotional documentary about the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military, the institutions that perpetuate and cover up its existence, and its profound personal and social consequences.Written by
A rare example of a film actually influencing government/military policy, end credits state that "On April 14.2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, watched this film. Two days later, he took the decision to prosecute away from unit commanders." However, it was noted that "this is not enough." The preceding is a true statement, but can be misleading. Military Commanders still hold prosecutorial discretion, but they can no longer be in the unit where the alleged misconduct had taken place. An "outside, higher ranking colonel" would now hold prosecutorial discretion. See more »
Rape in the military is about as thorny and intractable a problem as deciding whether to go to mid-east war or not. The Invisible War solidly makes the argument that the military judicial process for rape is deeply flawed, if only because commanders are given the absolute right and power to determine how the accusations are handled.
Think about it: the commander could be the assailant or a friend and can dismiss a case with little recourse for the aggrieved soldier. This documentary hammers home both statistically and in practice how frustrating the process can be, sometimes leading to suicide. A recent court decision that rape is an "occupational hazard" doesn't help anything.
At the least, husbands and wives become tense or split; rarely is a marriage unaffected by the rape. For singles, the sympathy is not overwhelming, and without a support group, it is lonely out there to take on the chain of command. In a macho world where team attitude is high priority, rape allegations are not welcomed, especially if the rapist is the commanding officer.
As I find in many documentaries, only one side is examined (Michael Moore being the leading exponent of the lopsided argument). In the case of The Invisible War, we are well served with victims who get no satisfaction, but we don't experience fully the case where the accused is found to have been wronged by the accuser. However, the doc does an effective job with the stories of women who accused but rarely gained a conviction.
The percentage of adjudicated cases where the accused is found guilty is small. Given the thousands of allegations, that number seems too small. At any rate, after seeing this documentary, Secretary of Defense made a bold decision that confirms the efficacy of a well-made documentary.
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