The documentary The Invisible War, a stark and moving look at the alarming incidence of sexual assault in the United States military, was nominated this morning for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The film was made by filmmaker Kirby Dick.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas is a Congressional champion on the issue of preventing military sexual assault and helping victims seek justice and is featured in the film. She is one of the founders of the House of Representatives Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus and has authored legislation to expand the rights of victims -- like providing them with confidentiality when reporting crimes, access to counsel, and ensuring they can transfer bases if they've been assaulted -- and to hold the military to a higher standard when it comes to preventing military sexual violence in the first place.
Congresswoman Tsongas released the following statement.
""The Invisible War' is a moving and uncomfortable documentary about an unspeakable crime, and a military culture that unacceptably turns a blind eye. It has been instrumental in focusing a national spotlight on a shocking issue that affects as many as one in three returning female veterans. The Academy Award attention will serve to further raise awareness of a problem that affects so many on a very personal level with very national consequences.
"I am grateful to the makers of the film who went to extreme lengths to interview not only dozens of survivors, but also those who are working to break the pattern. This is an important film dedicated to ensuring that the stories of the courageous men and women it features, and the countless others who share their reality, receive the attention they deserve so that we can bring an end to the heartbreaking violence and injustice depicted in this film."
Congresswoman Tsongas has hosted several viewings of the film at various locations around Massachusetts and in Washington, DC over the past year. Following a showing in Lowell, the Congresswoman and a panel of military sexual assault survivors and advocates held a discussion with the audience on steps being taken in Congress and the armed forces. Another viewing and panel discussion event is scheduled for March 27 at Tufts University in Medford, MA.
The Academy Awards ceremony will be held February 24, 2013.