In depth-analysis areaMary F. Calvert
The battle within: sexual assault in America's military

The Battle Within: Sexual Assault in America’s Military

This long-term project aims to help to bring about meaningful social change in the U.S. Military and American society. Mary F. Calvert is aware of the fact that change is a long process and she’s still wondering if the situation is ever going to improve.  In order to deeply analyze every aspect of this issue the photographer has divided her work in 3 chapters.

Part 1: The Hearings

Women who join the US Armed Forces are being raped and sexually assaulted by their colleagues in record numbers. An estimated 14,000 rapesand sexual assaults took place in the U.S. Armed Forces in 2016; only one in seven victims reported their attacks, and just one in ten of those cases went to trial.

Now at Senate and House hearings on Capitol Hill, the US Military is being forced to examine why are rape and sexual assault so prevalent within the ranks, its victims ignored and the abuse considered simply a breach of conduct and not a criminal offense.

Part 2: The Survivors

Most military rape survivors are forced out of service and many are even compelled to continue working for their rapists. The effects of Military Sexual Trauma, (MST), include depression, substance abuse, paranoia and feelings of isolation. Victims spend years drowning in shame and fear as the psychological damage silently eats away at their lives: many frequently end up addicted to drugs and alcohol, homeless or take their own lives.

Part 3: Homeless Women Veterans

Women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population in the United States and are four times more likely to become homeless than civilian women. Women who have survived Military Sexual Trauma are the most hidden population of homeless women and often flounder in unsafe relationships, live in their cars or endure drug-infested motels to avoid shelters or the street. Women who courageously served their country in Iraq and Afghanistan have arrived home with healthcare issues including Military Sexual Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, to scattered families, jobs that no longer exist, an impotent Department of Veteran’s Affairs and to a nation who favors their male counterparts.

The challenges for women veterans are unique and difficult to address, especially when programs for vets seldom meet the needs of mothers and many homeless women vets happen to be single parents.

Women have to leave their children in the care of family members or friends when they deploy and many face custodybattles when the stress of deployment tears their families apart. Many of these women escaped a difficult situation by joining the military and when they get out find them unable to cope with the stresses of unemployment and a weak economy. In addition, a good deal of homeless shelters cannot accommodate children and those that can often won’t allow a male child over the age of 12.

Mary is on the side of the victims, bearing witness to the fight for justice, arousing people’s consciences to make change happen.

Photojournalist Mary F. Calvert is committed to using photography to affect meaningful social change and is known for producing work on gender based, human rights issues. Calvert believes that journalists have a duty to shine a light into the deepest recesses of the human experience and provide a mirror for society to examine itself.

For her work on sexual assault in the US Military, she is the recipient of numerous honors including First Prize, Long-Term Projects in the 2016 World Press Photo Contest, the 2016 Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography, the 2015 and 2016 National Press Photographers Association Cliff Edom New America Award, the 2015 W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Fellowship and the 2014 Alexia Foundation Women’s Initiative Grant. In 2013 Calvert was awarded the Canon Female Photojournalist Award at Visa Pour L‘Image in Perpignan, France for her project “The Battle Within: Sexual Assault in America’s Military.”  The resulting work was featured in a solo exhibition at the 2014 Visa Pour L’Image, International Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France.

She has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award twice and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist in Feature Photography.

In addition to being a guest faculty member of the Eddie Adams Workshop, the Western Kentucky University Mountain Workshops and Momenta Workshops, she has been a member of the faculty for the Department of Defense Worldwide Military Photographers Workshop in Ft. Meade for the last nineteen years.

A select list of Mary’s clients include Stern, Paris Match, Internazionale, Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, T. Rowe Price, AOL, Google, Inside Counsel Magazine, Fed-Tech Magazine, Ashby Law and BU Today for Boston University.  She has been published all over the globe including Le Monde, De Groene Amsterdammer, The International Herald Tribune, iDNES, inmediaONE, Mother Jones, and The Christian Science Monitor.

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