Baton Rouge residents were given the opportunity to learn about women’s experiences in the military with the screening of the award-winning documentary, “The Invisible War,” on Thursday at the USS KIDD Veterans Museum.

The event was organized by the LSU Women’s Center

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Attendees wait in the  museum’s lobby before screening

as part of their Gender on Film series. The series occurs once a semester and has a yearly theme. This year’s theme is based on the experiences of women in the military. LSU Women’s Center graduate assistant and event organizer, Noelle Davis, stated that last October the center screened “Women in War,” a documentary about the history of women’s roles in the military.

This semester’s documentary focuses on the increasing incidences of sexual assault in the military. Davis described the issue as “one of America’s most shameful and best-kept secrets.”

A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that 20,300 active duty military members were sexually assaulted in 2014. The Protect Our Defenders website further explained that out of those numbers, 9,600 were women. In fact, the website states that sexual assaults are more commonplace in the military and that rates are 50 percent higher among active-duty women.

The number of sexual assaults in the armed forces may be much higher. Statistics show that in the majority of cases, 86 percent are never reported. According to Protect Our Defenders, this may be due to fear of retaliation from other members. The website states that 62 percent of women who report sexual assaults are retaliated against.

Davis explained that events like the screening of “The Invisible War” help the Women’s Center achieve its mission of promoting the advancement of women’s issues.

“The events we hold not only open people’s eyes to some issues for the first time, but they can also give another perspective,” Davis said. “It’s important that people are talking about these things or nothing will change.”

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USS KIDD Museum Theater

This semester’s event is not the first time the Women’s Center has partnered up with the museum. The museum’s development coordinator, Catherine Cooper, explained that, in the past, the two have worked together to bring awareness to similar issues.

“It’s important for the KIDD to partner with organizations like the LSU Women’s Center to bring events such as the Gender on Film series to the community because they discuss issues that affect all members of our community,” Cooper said.

The museum has had events focused on women’s issues independent of the LSU Women’s Center in the past. In 2014 the museum screened the “Invisible War” as part of their KIDD Keynote lecture series. Cooper said that past events have garnered positive feedback.

“The USS KIDD has received great feedback from similar educational events that we have hosted,” Cooper said. “Our KIDD Keynotes lecture series gives members of our community an opportunity to learn about the range of issues that impact all community members.”

The documentary generated some emotional responses from audience members. Event goer, Johanna Caballero, explained how surprising the documentary was.

“I did think it was really shocking,” Caballero said.”It was so informative about what really goes on and how it isn’t really being acknowledged.”

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