Navy’s Delayed Response to Video Five Years Too Late
Capt. Honors’ Relieved of Duties Only After Video Became Public; Another Example of the Culture of Impunity Regarding Rape, Assaults and Harassment
NEW YORK - Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) - a national human rights
organization founded by women veterans to advance the equal treatment of
all servicemembers and veterans - spoke out today regarding the United
States Navy's decision to relieve Captain Owen Honors of his duties
aboard the USS Enterprise. SWAN's Executive Director and former Marine
Corps Captain, Anuradha Bhagwati called the response, "An easy step for
the Navy to make today, after these videos were made public, but where
was the military's senior leadership in 2006 and 2007 when these videos
were shown to over 6,000 USS Enterprise crewmembers?"
Capt. Owen Honors, serving as Executive Officer of the USS Enterprise
during the 2006 and 2007 time period, produced and starred in videos
featuring masturbation, a mock anal exam with a stick, anti-gay slurs,
explicit language, and footage of women sailors in the shower. The
videos were recently made public by the Virginia Pilot, a Norfolk, VA
"Unfortunately, this video is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes
to the culture of sexual misconduct taking place in our military today,"
said Anuradha Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps Captain and Executive
Director of SWAN. "Positive cultural changes based on the acceptance
and respect of all servicemembers can only begin with the personal
examples set by the highest levels of military leadership. By not
holding Captain Honors immediately accountable for his actions when
complaints were made by servicemembers in 2006 and 2007, the Navy has
yet again highlighted the military's lack of commitment to changing the
culture that gives rise to rampant sexual violence and discrimination
where the perpetrators are, more often than not, protected and
This recent scandal comes on the heels of the December 15th release of
the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
Office (SAPRO) "Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the
U.S. Military Service Academies." Bhagwati released a statement at the
time which in part read, "The vast majority of generals and admirals
began their careers as cadets and midshipmen at the military academies.
They have been steeped in leadership models and ethical traditions that
clearly fail when it comes to issues of discrimination, sexual
harassment and gender-based violence." According to Navy records,
Captain Honors attended the US Naval Academy, graduating in 1983.
To read the full press release, with a link to the SAPRO report, please visit: http://www.servicewomen.org/
SWAN made headlines earlier last month after filing a lawsuit
with the ACLU against the Department of Defense and Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) for their failure to respond to Freedom of
Information Act requests seeking government records documenting
incidents of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.
While over tens of thousands of military service members each year are
estimated to experience some form of Military Sexual Trauma, the
military and VA failed to release thousands of documents related to
Military Sexual Trauma cases. The full press release on the SWAN/ACLU
lawsuit can be read, here: http://www.servicewomen.org/
SWAN is a national human rights organization founded and led by women veterans. SWAN's vision is to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and the freedom to serve in uniform without threat of harassment, discrimination, intimidation or assault. SWAN also seeks to reform veterans' services on a national scale to guarantee equal access to quality health care, benefits and resources for women veterans and their families. You can follow Service Women's Action Network on Twitter at http://twitter.com/servicewomen, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/servicewomen.