This really isn't new, although the Pentagon would like to pretend it is. There has always been sexual harassment and rape of male recruits, who are usually targeted during basic training for being "weak" or effeminate. (I have a friend who's a VA counselor, which is how I know about it. Like me, you probably didn't know that VA hospitals offer support services for male rape survivors.)
I bring it up to show this isn't a problem caused by allowing women to serve in combat zones. More to the point, the military culture seems to condone violent sexual impulses by refusing to actively pursue the perpetuators:
A Pentagon-appointed task force, in a report released this month, pointedly criticized the military’s efforts to prevent sexual abuse, citing the “unique stresses” of deployments in places like Camp Taji. “Some military personnel indicated that predators may believe they will not be held accountable for their misconduct during deployment because commanders’ focus on the mission overshadows other concerns,” the report said.
That, among other reasons, is why sexual assault and harassment go unreported far more often than not. “You’re in the middle of a war zone,” Captain White said, reflecting a fear many military women describe of being seen, somehow, as harming the mission.
“So it’s kind of like that one little thing is nothing compared with ‘There is an I.E.D. that went off in this convoy today and three people were injured,’ ” she said, referring to an improvised explosive device.
By the Pentagon’s own estimate, as few as 10 percent of sexual assaults are reported, far lower than the percentage reported in the civilian world. Specialist Erica A. Beck, a mechanic and gunner who served in Diyala Province in Iraq this summer, recalled a sexual proposition she called “inappropriate” during her first tour in the country in 2006-7. “Not necessarily being vulgar, but he, you know, was asking for favors,” she said.
She did not report it, she said, because she feared that her commanders would have reacted harshly — toward her.
“It was harassment,” she said. “And because it was a warrant officer, I didn’t say anything. I was just a private.”