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Soldiers Say Military Doesn’t Protect Them From Sexual Assault

Veterans Kori Cioca, of Wilmington, Ohio, left, and Panayiota Bertzikis, 29, of Somerville, Mass., who were assaulted and raped while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, are among those suing Pentagon officials, seeking change in the military's handling of rape, and sexual assault cases. (AP)

Veterans Kori Cioca, of Wilmington, Ohio, left, and Panayiota Bertzikis, 29, of Somerville, Mass., who were assaulted and raped while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, are among those suing Pentagon officials, seeking change in the military's handling of rape, and sexual assault cases. (AP)

A class action lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of 17 men and women service members alleges that the Pentagon doesn’t do enough to prevent rape and sexual assault within its ranks.

Living in a war zone is hazardous enough, but some servicemembers say that the military is not protecting them from rape and sexual assualt from fellow soldiers and superiors.

The group created a website, stopmilitaryrape.org, and many service members are sharing their stories of sexual assualt within the military at mydutytospeak.com.

The military, in conjunction with the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, has also created a website designed to help service members affected by sexual assault, myduty.mil.

We speak with Panayiota Bertzikis, executive director of the Military Rape Crisis center based in Cambridge and one of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the military. We also speak with Jessica Stern, an expert on violence, and Rep. Niki Tsongas, who has lead efforts in congress to reform the Pentagon’s handling of rape cases.

Guests:

  • Panayiota Bertzikis, veteran, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Rep. Niki Tsongas, representative from Massachusetts’ 5th district
  • Jessica Stern, member, Task Force on National Security and Law, Hoover Institution; author “Denial: A Memoir of Terror

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