Washington D.C.- On April 22, Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen went missing from Fort Hood in Texas. Her remains were found more than two months after her disappearance. She had been violently struck with a hammer, burned and partially dismembered. Her harasser and killer, Aaron David Robinson, committed suicide as law enforcement pursued him. Civilian Cecily Aguilar, who was Robison’s girlfriend, and implicated in the murder, faces one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Women like Vanessa constitute 20% of our nation’s military. They are the targets of 63% of assaults in the military, and within this past year, one out of every 16 women in service have reported being groped, raped or sexually assaulted (Source: Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military).
In the past two years, sexual assault in our nation’s military has increased dramatically, additionally women in uniform constitue 50% of this rise. In 2018, some 20,500 service members reported having experienced “unwanted sexual contact.” These staggering statistics are but a product of systemic failures within our nation’s military which has upheld a culture that fosters these nefarious conditions, protects abusers, and thus turns a blind eye to sexual assault.
Women in the military should not have to be prayed upon by sexual predators. LCLAA stands in solidarity with Vanessa’s family, and all those advocating for a change in the way the military prosecutes sexual assault crimes.
“According to the DOD’s annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, in 2019, there were more than 6,200 reports of sexual harassment within the military, 90% of these cases failed to make it to court martial,” said Yanira Merino, LCLAA National President. “The fact that these crimes are not subject to immediate investigation, and held to a legal process, is absolutely ludicrous. We cannot fail those who are risking their lives for our nation, these men and women deserve more from our nation’s leaders, which is why we demand justice for Vanessa and all those women and men who have had to silence their voices because they are too scared of retaliation.”
The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is the leading national organization for Latino(a) workers and their families. LCLAA was born in 1972 out of the need to educate, organize and mobilize Latinos in the labor movement and has expanded its influence to organize Latinos in an effort to impact workers’ rights and their influence in the political process. LCLAA represents the interest of more than 2 million Latino workers in the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), The Change to Win Federation, Independent Unions and all its membership. Visit LCLAA on the web at www.lclaa.org, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram