No Protection 

A former soldier holds weekly protests at recruiting office.

When U.S. Army soldier Allison DeVant reported that she'd been raped by another member of the military, she says she didn't receive counseling. Instead, she was harassed, interrogated, and intimidated by her commanders. She began standing up to them, and in October of last year, she was discharged. She'd had dreams of becoming an officer.

Now she's taking to the streets with a message for all women who may be considering joining the military: Rape is common, and if it happens don't let anyone intimidate you into thinking you've lost your civil rights.

Donning a black beret and camouflaged military garb, DeVant and a friend hold weekly protests outside the Air Force Recruitment Office at the corner of Danny Thomas Boulevard and Beale Street. DeVant's sign reads, "In the U.S. military, female soldiers have no protection against rape."

"I love my military and I'm as patriotic as the next person, but I'm speaking out against those few who do the damage and make the cover-up," said DeVant. "I'm not going to say that women shouldn't join, but they need to be aware that if they are raped or assaulted, they still have rights. And if they report, they could be harassed, intimidated, or blamed."

DeVant said many women do not report rape in the military for fear of harassment, and even when they do, the rapist rarely receives more than a slap on the wrist. According to Army statistics from 1996, out of 440 rapes in that year, only 33 resulted in convictions.

She said she still hasn't received counseling, and is hoping to find a lawyer to represent her in a civil suit against the military. She said she's talked to several lawyers but most are "afraid to take on the government."

"I'll continue the protests until someone steps forward and helps me," she says. "And even after that, I'll be an advocate to young women in this situation. If they continue to let this happen, they're going to undermine the very foundation of the military. They're going to hurt America." n

E-mail: bphillips@memphisflyer.com

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