The United States Marine Corps is investigating a nude photo scandal in which images of current and former servicewomen were allegedly shared on social media without their consent. The photos often showed the women either nude or nearly nude and were shared on a secret Facebook page that has more than 30,000 followers.
According to reports, the photos were stored on an external hard-drive and included the women’s names and ranks. A link was then posted to a Facebook page, called Marines United, which led users to thousands of nude photos of women service members and veterans. Comments posted on the site about the women were often obscene. The existence of the page was exposed over the weekend in an explosive report authored by a former Marine and Purple Heart recipient in conjunction with a group known as the War Horse and published on the website Reveal. The shared drive has since been taken offline. An investigation has been launched by the U.S. Navy, a Marine spokesperson said, according to The Washington Post.
One Marine whose photos were among the thousands shared on the social media platform is speaking out about the violation. Marine Lance Cpl. Marisa Woytek said numerous photos of her were ripped from her Instagram account in recent months, without her consent, and shared on the drive. “Even if I could, I’m never reenlisting,” Woytek told The Washington Post. “Being sexually harassed online ruined the Marine Corps for me, and the experience.” Woytek said the comments were largely focused on rape and sexual assault and that colleagues of hers experience similar violent language in comments posted alongside their photos.
By Sunday evening, some federal lawmakers denounced the actions and demanded a full investigation into the matter. “This behavior by Marines and former Marines is degrading, dangerous, and completely unacceptable,” U.S. Representative Adam Smith of Washington state, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said. “The military men and women who proudly volunteer to serve their country should not have to deal with this kind of reprehensible conduct.”
The scandal has erupted just about a year to the day after the Defense Department launched formal efforts to better integrate women into all aspects of the military, including combat roles, and less than a year after the Marine Corps welcomed the first two women infantry members in its history.
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Read the full story at The Washington Post.