The 2005 death of US Army Private LaVena Johnson, officially ruled suicide by the Department of Defense, in fact exemplifies the sexual violence that female soldiers encounter while serving their country. Johnson’s autopsy revealed wounds inconsistent with suicide, including chemical burns that many believe were intended to destroy DNA evidence of rape. The Pentagon has tried to intimidate reporters and editors working on stories about Johnson. Johnson’s case is among at least twenty where female soldiers have died under suspicious circumstances. The mysterious deaths coincide with an increase in sexual violence against women in the military. According to the Department of Defense, in 2010, there were 3,158 total reports of sexual assault in the military. The DOD estimates that this number represents only 13.5 percent of the actual assaults, making the total number of military rapes and sexual assaults in excess of 19,000 for the year.
Censored News Cluster: Women and Gender, Race and Ethnicity
John Lasker, “Sexual Violence Against Women in the US Military: The Search for Truth and Justice,” Toward Freedom, July 14, 2011, http://www.towardfreedom.com/women/2474-sexual-violence-against-women-in-the-us-military-the-search-for-truth-and-justice.
Student Researcher: Taylor Falbisaner (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)