A shocking story coming out of the Australian military indicates that young cadets were systematically raped and forced to rape others as part of barbaric initiation practices. According to a public inquiry that took place on Tuesday, the horrific abuse seems to have gone on for decades, going back to at least 1960 according to a CNN report. The public inquiry into allegations that Australian military cadets were raped systematically uncovered that some of the sexual abuse victims were as young as 15-years-old.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has been convened to hear evidence from former cadets, both male and female, who claim to have been raped in several divisions of the Australian military.
This particular commission is reportedly focused on the alleged systematic rapes of cadets HMAS Leeuwin, a naval training facility in Western Australia, as well as at Balcombe, an army apprentice school in Victoria. The instances of sexual abuse among Australian military cadets reportedly took place in the 1960’s through 1980s, as well as among military cadets who have enlisted since 2000.
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Sadly, and almost unbelievably, more than 100 alleged victims of the Australian military cadet rape scandal have come forward with tales of being raped since the news of the atrocities broke, and over a dozen of them will be speaking during the inquiry. The commission is meeting in Sydney for the hearing, and the inquiry into the Australian military cadet rapes is expected to continue until the first of July.
The victims, all of which were allegedly raped and/or forced to rape other cadets, had terrifying and heartbreaking experiences of abuse to tell when they speak before the commission. One unnamed victim described a vicious cycle of abuse that victims were powerless to escape during their time as Australian military cadets.
“On multiple occasions, I was snatched from my bed in the middle of the night by older recruits and dragged to a sports oval. The environment made it useless to resist. One could stand only so much abuse before realizing that saying ‘no’ was pointless. After a while compliance and getting it over and done with seemed the best solution.”
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According to a large number of survivors of the Australian military rapes, cadets reporting the sexual abuse to superiors did no good. Many said that when they reported that they had been raped, they were ignored or even punished. Some even recount that they were told by commanding officers in the Australian military that being systematically raped was “a rite of passage.”
One of the alleged victims is now 65-years-old, and he told the commission of the sexual abuse he endured in 1967 when he was a 16-year-old navy cadet. Graeme Frazer said that he recalls being terrified when he as abused and sexually assaulted by three other military recruits. According to Frazer, he was forcibly dragged from the communal showers, beaten and then orally raped by his attackers. He said that his attackers then covered his genitals with boot polish and scrubbed it off with a stiff brush while they held him down, helpless.
“I still feel a lot of guilt and shame about the abuse. I have suffered depression.”
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The current commission will be thoroughly investigating multiple claims of victims who claimed to have been raped during their time as Australian military cadets. The inquiry will also look into how complaints of sexual abuse were handled by the Australian Defense Ministry. The current inquiry is just the latest chapter of a long-running investigation into allegations of rape permeating the Australian military.
Responses to claims for compensation will also be investigated.
An Australian Defense Ministry spokesperson had only a few words to say about the matter when addressing the media.
“[The Defense Ministry is] cooperating with the Royal Commission and supports its objectives to safeguard children. We recognize and commend the courage of those who will tell their own stories of personal suffering throughout the hearings. It is not appropriate for (the defense ministry) to comment in further detail on matters that are before the Royal Commission.”
As the investigation into claims that young cadets in the Australian military were systematically raped for decades continues, one can only hope that the Royal Commission’s inquiry will result in sweeping changes and some semblance of justice for victims.
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