ACLU Statement on U.S. Marine Corps Photo-Sharing Scandal

March 15, 2017 3:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee is investigating the revelation that possibly hundreds of active-duty male Marines have used social media to share explicit photographs of female colleagues and have posted derogatory and threatening comments about them. As many as 30,000 Marines, including veterans and inactive service members, belonged to the Facebook group Marines United, which is the focus of the current inquiry. Although that group has been disbanded, news outlets have reported that others have sprung up to take its place. The House is expected to take up this issue tomorrow in a closed-door briefing.

Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director, issued the following statement:

“The ACLU is appalled by this most recent instance of male Marines using the Internet to abuse the women who serve alongside them. There is little doubt that this crisis is the result of significant cultural problems within the Marine Corps and a failure of leadership at the highest levels.

“We applaud Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed for convening a public hearing to examine this disturbing situation. The committee members did well to question the senior leaders of the Marine Corps about their plans to shut down the offending sites and hold accountable the Marines who participated. However, the committee should press for a comprehensive, independent investigation into the extent to which senior leaders in the U.S. Marines Corps have encouraged or condoned this reprehensible misconduct, and what measures are needed to prevent such activities from ever occurring again.

“The Marine Corps must commit to rooting out the misogyny that made this latest scandal inevitable. And it can begin that effort by joining the other military branches in integrating its basic training, validating the standards used to qualify infantry officers, and bringing both its leadership and its rank and file into the 21st century.”

Among all the military branches, the Marines have the lowest percentage of female members and the highest rate of sexual assault. The Marine Corps is currently the only service branch maintaining segregated basic training and previously opposed lifting the ban on women serving in ground combat roles, which was the subject of a 2012 ACLU lawsuit that remains pending.

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