In light of the recent end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Colorlines puts into perspective just how severely Black female servicemembers were impacted:

Even though black women comprise less than one percent of servicemembers, they represented 3.3 percent of all don’t ask, don’t tell discharges. Women in general appear to have been targeted under the policy. According to a 2010 Service Women’s Action Network report, women were 15 percent of the armed forces in 2008, but comprised 34 percent of the don’t ask, don’t tell discharges. People of color represented just under 30 percent of active duty personnel, but 45 percent of don’t ask, don’t tell discharges. The Pentagon discharged more than 14,000 servicemembers under the policy between when it took effect in December 1993 and its official end last week.

Many women who have been discharged under don’t ask, don’t tell were reported to their commanding officers as lesbians after they rebuffed a fellow servicemember’s sexual advances. Sexual harassment and sexual assault remain serious problems within the ranks. Recent reports continue to indicate that the Pentagon has not done enough to address them.

The Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office indicated in a March 2011 report that there were 3,158 reported sexual assaults in the military in 2010. The Pentagon estimates that this figure represents less than 14 percent of the actual number of rapes and sexual assaults in the armed forces during this period. Furthermore, the SAPRO report indicates that 90 percent of sexual assaults and 80 percent of sexual harassment go unreported.


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