Oakland, CA—April 07, 2017
Mills College President Elizabeth L. Hillman, an expert on sexual assault, harassment
and discrimination in the US military, was invited by Congresswomen Barbara Lee ’73,
Jackie Speier Lois Frankel, and Brenda Lawrence to testify before a congressional
hearing on Wednesday in a hearing to address the ongoing issue of nonconsensual online
pornography within the United States military.
The hearing, hosted by the Democratic Working Women’s Group, was prompted by recent revelations that private social media groups for the Marines and other US military groups were being used to share nude images of female service members without their consent.
Hillman joined two female Marine survivors of the scandal whose images were posted without their consent, their attorney, Gloria Allred, and journalist and former Marine James LaPorta in testifying before the congressional panel.
Hillman called for a military wide rule that extends privacy rights to “sexual images distributed without the consent of the person appearing in those images.”
“Already we protect the confidentiality of medical records, educational records, financial information, and other sensitive information,” Hillman said. “Private photographs and videos of nudity or sexual activity deserve protection too. We should all welcome legislative and regulatory efforts to strengthen the negative consequences of posting private sexual images.”
Hillman went further in calling for criminal penalties in a Tuesday interview on radio station KQED in San Francisco. “The posting of private sexual images without the consent of the person whose picture it is should be made criminal,” Hillman said.
Hillman also said that despite the recent scandal, the US armed forces have improved in terms of equality.
“The fact that we have open service by transgender personnel is a huge change that many people didn’t think would happen,” Hillman said. “The end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the fact that there are Air Force generals who are women who have women partners who are now taking command of different bases, those sorts of changes make a tremendous difference.”
Hillman also told the Congressional panel that the emphasis placed on equality at Mills College is a good example of an environment the US military should emulate.
“Like the armed forces, we know that the climate of our campus, and the value we place on gender and racial equity, is essential to making transformative experiences possible,” Hillman said.
Hillman is a director and past president of the National Institute of Military Justice, a nonprofit that promotes fairness in military justice worldwide, and she previously served on the Congressional Response Systems to the Audit Sexual Assault Crimes Panel to study and make recommendations about sexual assault in the US military. She also is currently a member of the Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Science, Engineering, and Medical Workplaces Committee and is a member of the national academies of sciences, engineering and medicine.
You can view President Hillman’s testimony here at 33:22.