Air Force Seeks Rape Info; Senate Drops Child Care

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(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

Air Force General William Begert initiated a five-month investigation into the military’s system of dealing with sexual assault and has revealed information forcing the military to reform its methods.

The Denver Post reported that Begert has ordered improved training for crisis intervention among Air Force staffers and vigilant coordination between victim liaisons and law enforcement upon finding that many accused rapists in the military have not been legally punished.

Commanders, not prosecutors, make decisions on legal action within the military.

The investigation involved interviews with staffers, analysis of rape cases and reviews of media reports by an Air Force panel. The memo released this month to The Post revealed that the military has no centralized monitoring system for its abuse reports, with at least 92 rape reports having slipped through the cracks in the years 2001 to 2003.

Begert found that rape cases have been increasing in the Pacific region that he oversees and that in many cases mental health or other support was provided only when victims requested it.

“This is unacceptable,” Begert stated in the memo.


Jeers

The U.S. Senate Budget Committee’s proposed budget resolution for the Fiscal Year of 2005, includes no increases for child care and Medicaid, the health insurance for millions of families with low incomes.

The National Women’s Law Center reported that this is the third year that the Senate budget failed to include increases in the Child Care and Development Block Grant that provides funding assistance for low income adults who require child care to work. The neglected Medicaid budget will affect the nation’s low income heads of households who are already excluded from many health care programs.

Head Start–a program that provides education and care for pre-kindergarten children living in poverty–was also short-changed by the proposed budget, with no proposed increase in the popular program’s funds. The law center predicts that this will affect approximately 20,000 children in the United States.

A spokesperson from the office of Olympia Snowe, a Republican senator from Maine and an advocate for funding increases for these domestic programs, confirmed the lack of increases in the proposed budget.

— Emma Pearse.

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