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Biden promises an ‘all hands on deck effort’ to combat sexual assault in the military

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247 News Around The World
247 News Around The World

President Joe Biden vowed an ‘all hands on deck effort’ to combat sexual assault in the military during an International Women Day’s event on Monday, where he appointed two women as four-star generals.

Biden described sexual assault in the ranks as a ‘threat to our national security.’ 

‘We have to take on sexual assault harassment and violence against women in the military. Sexual assault is a abhorrent and wrong at any time. And our military so much of unit cohesion is built on trusting your fellow service members to have your back. There’s nothing less than a threat to our national security,’ he said.

The president, who was accompanied at the event by Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, noted Austin as set up an independent review commission on sexual assaults in the military. 

‘This is going to be an all hands on deck effort. Under my administration to end the scourge of sexual assault in the military. And we’re going to be focused on that from the very top,’ Biden said.

President Joe Biden walks with U.S. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, left, and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson before speaking at an event to mark International Women's Day

President Joe Biden walks with U.S. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, left, and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson before speaking at an event to mark International Women's Day

President Joe Biden walks with U.S. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, left, and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson before speaking at an event to mark International Women’s Day

President Biden, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, said combating sexual assault in the military will be an all hands on deck effort

President Biden, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, said combating sexual assault in the military will be an all hands on deck effort

President Biden, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, said combating sexual assault in the military will be an all hands on deck effort

Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, of the Air Force

Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, of the Air Force

Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, of the Army

Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, of the Army

Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, 55, of the Air Force, left, and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, 57, of the Army

Meanwhile, Biden’s nominations of Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, of the Air Force, and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, of the Army, will be sent up to the Senate for approval. 

If confirmed by the Senate, General Van Ovost and Lieutenant General Richardson will become the second and third women to lead a Combatant Command, according to the White House.

Biden’s appointment comes after their promotions were held up over fears then-President Donald Trump would resist them because they weren’t white men.

‘Each of these women have led careers demonstrating  incomparable skill, integrity, and duty to country. And at every step, they’ve also helped push open the doors of opportunity to women in our military blazing the trail, a little wider, a little brighter for all proud women following in their path,’ the president said in announcement the appointments.

He also noted Van Ovost, the daughter of Dutch immigrants who owned a flying business, flew herself, at age 16, to see Sally Ride lift off as the first woman in space. He praised her career as a test pilot and noted she flew Air Force Two when he rode on it as vice president.

And he noted Richardson, in her position, oversaw the military medical personnel deployed to help the response to the COVID pandemic.

‘More than 4500 military medical personnel deployed in hospitals across 14 states and the Navajo Nation to treat COVID-19 patients,’ Biden said.

President Joe Biden speaks during an event to mark International Women's Day as Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin listen

President Joe Biden speaks during an event to mark International Women's Day as Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin listen

President Joe Biden speaks during an event to mark International Women’s Day as Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin listen

U.S. Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost fist bumps Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin following President Joe Biden's remarks on International Women's Day

U.S. Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost fist bumps Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin following President Joe Biden's remarks on International Women's Day

U.S. Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost fist bumps Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin following President Joe Biden’s remarks on International Women’s Day

President Joe Biden (C) speaks, flanked by the nominees to positions as 4-star Combatant Commanders General Jacqueline Van Ovost (L) and Lieutenant General Laura Richardson (R)

President Joe Biden (C) speaks, flanked by the nominees to positions as 4-star Combatant Commanders General Jacqueline Van Ovost (L) and Lieutenant General Laura Richardson (R)

President Joe Biden (C) speaks, flanked by the nominees to positions as 4-star Combatant Commanders General Jacqueline Van Ovost (L) and Lieutenant General Laura Richardson (R)

Then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley held up the two women’s promotions last year out of a fear of bias on Trump’s part, according to The New York Times.

Although the two men believed the women were exceptional officers, they worried that any candidates who were not white men would be resisted by the White House. Instead, they gambled that Biden would win the election and set in motion nominations for after the transition of power.

Biden also signed two executive orders on Monday that will help combat sexual harassment but the president has yet to publicly comment on the allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Biden signed an executive order requiring the Department of Education to review a controversial policy from Betsy DeVos on how colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases. And he signed an order creating a Gender Policy Council, which among its charges, will look at combating harassment and discrimination.

But Biden hasn’t spoken about Cuomo. The New York governor is facing allegations from five women of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. On Sunday, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the powerful Democratic leader of the New York state Senate, called on Cuomo to resign.

President Biden will sign executive orders to combat sexual harassment of women but has yet to publicly comment on Andrew Cuomo

President Biden will sign executive orders to combat sexual harassment of women but has yet to publicly comment on Andrew Cuomo

President Biden will sign executive orders to combat sexual harassment of women but has yet to publicly comment on Andrew Cuomo

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said Biden supports a review into the allegations but the president, who touts himself as an ally of women and courted them heavily in his successful 2020 presidential bide, has not spoken about the issue himself. 

Cuomo has resisted calls to resign and he has urged the public to withhold their judgment until an inquiry overseen by the state attorney general, Letitia James, is complete. 

Meanwhile, Biden’s administration announced two new executive orders Monday to help issues facing women. 

One will examine the regulation from DeVos, who was Donald Trump‘s Education secretary. Her policy spelled out due process rights for those accused of harassment or assault on college campuses and gave the schools more latitude in deciding whether to report accusations to the Title IX office. It was heavily criticized by women’s groups and Democratic groups. 

As a presidential candidate, Biden said he change how investigate sexual harassment and assault under the federal civil rights law known as Title IX.  

He will sign an executive order directing the Education Department to evaluate whether the DeVos regulation is ‘consistent with the policies’ of the Biden administration, an administration official said.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will consider suspending, revising or rescinding DeVos’ actions if they are found to be inconsistent with the Biden administration’s policies, the administration official told reporters on a briefing call Sunday night.

President Biden will sign an executive order requiring the Department of Education to review a controversial policy from Betsy DeVos

President Biden will sign an executive order requiring the Department of Education to review a controversial policy from Betsy DeVos

President Biden will sign an executive order requiring the Department of Education to review a controversial policy from Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos, who was Donald Trump's Education secretary, changed an Obama-era policy and her action reduced the liability of schools for investigating sexual misconduct claims

Betsy DeVos, who was Donald Trump's Education secretary, changed an Obama-era policy and her action reduced the liability of schools for investigating sexual misconduct claims

Betsy DeVos, who was Donald Trump’s Education secretary, changed an Obama-era policy and her action reduced the liability of schools for investigating sexual misconduct claims

DeVos, in 2018 rescinded an Obama-era policy in regards to reports of sexual harassment on campuses that required a ‘preponderance of evidence’ – meaning it is more likely than not that sexual harassment occurred – to ‘clear and convincing evidence.’

Her changes reduced the liability of schools for investigating sexual misconduct claims and bolstered the due process rights of the accused. It gave the accused the right to cross-examine their accusers through a third-party advocate at campus hearings.

Biden also signed a second order that creates a Gender Policy Council. 

The Council will focus on advancing gender equity, combating discrimination, building female participation, and transgender rights. 

It is similar to the White House Council on Women and Girls that existed under Barack Obama but an administration official said the name was purposely changed to ‘Gender’ to indicate transgender people would be included.

Gender discrimination can happen to ‘people of all genders,’ the official said. ‘There will be a focus on women and girls, but the choice of the name of the council is really intentional.’ 

The Gender Policy Council will be led by Julissa Reynoso, chief of staff to first lady Jill Biden, and Jennifer Klein, the chief strategy and policy officer for the anti-sexual-harassment group TIME’S UP.

Attorney Wendy Murphy, center, speaks through a bullhorn as she and a small group of other women protest the Trump administration's rollback of sexual assault rules in Title IX in 2017

Attorney Wendy Murphy, center, speaks through a bullhorn as she and a small group of other women protest the Trump administration's rollback of sexual assault rules in Title IX in 2017

Attorney Wendy Murphy, center, speaks through a bullhorn as she and a small group of other women protest the Trump administration’s rollback of sexual assault rules in Title IX in 2017

Almost every cabinet secretary will be required to participate with the council and the council will report directly to the president. 

The coronavirus pandemic has hit women the hardest with 2.5 million leaving the work force compared to 2.1 million men. Black and Hispanic women show the greatest decline in employment, according to statistics from the Labor Department. 

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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