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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JULIETTE KAYYEM

Women in combat are not a cause of sexual assault, but could be the cure

“Proximity” debate has it backward

Simultaneously, two very different stories are unfolding about women in the military, speaking to the best and worst about our force’s capacity to reform and repulse. As the Pentagon allows more women to train for roles that had been previously closed under the antiquated combat exclusion rules, the unfolding rape scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas shows that some men still view assault as sport. The mixed narratives, some argue, suggest what can happen when the sexes merge, when the stresses of war mix with physical proximity. Even General Edward Rice, the head of Air Force personnel, hinted that separation in basic training might be the best solution.

This notion — that sexual abuse is somehow tied to the the emergence of women in closer proximity to combat — is a complete ruse. Women in combat are not a cause of sexual assault, but they could be the cure.

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