Army unit in South Korea stops marking women’s doors with tape
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Leaders of a U.S. Army unit in South Korea have scrapped a measure in which doors on rooms of female troops were marked with red tape in a bid to curb sexual assaults, Stars and Stripes has learned.
The practice ended Wednesday after women objected, saying they feared the tape on their doors might actually invite attacks.
The taping occurred in barracks of the Army's 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, part of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, a Patriot missile unit. The battalion has four barracks at Suwon Air Base and one at Osan Air Base.
Leaders within the brigade in mid-August decided to mark the doors with tape to help protect female troops from sexual attacks, said Lt. Col. Terence M. Dorn, the battalion commander.
Three sexual misconduct incidents, including a May 1 rape, had occurred in the barracks over the past 15 months, Dorn said. The other two were a sexual assault and an attempt at one.
"We were trying to protect our female soldiers," Dorn told Stars and Stripes Friday.
The lengths of tape ran horizontally across the doors "above the eyehole where you look out," Dorn said.
"Every single one of the females I've talked to, they hate it," a soldier in the unit, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Stars and Stripes.
Dorn said the soldier told him she feared the tape might serve only to call attention to the fact that a given room was occupied by females, he said.
"We did talk and I told her that I did not know that a few others had concerns ... And the evening of the 31st the tape came down after I talked with the brigade commander," Dorn said. Col. John G. Rossi commands the brigade.
Leaders in the brigade had hoped the tape could help alert soldiers walking through the halls that any suspicious noises coming from marked rooms might be the sounds of a sexual assault in progress, Dorn said.
Internal review of the three incidents had shown that while they were occurring, barracks occupants heard noises but did not intervene because the sounds weren't unmistakably those of someone in trouble.
"People living in the barracks come and go, so we know people walked by and heard something," Dorn said. "I asked them, 'What did you hear?'"
He said soldiers told him they thought what they heard "could have been low talk, could have been murmuring."
"None of them thought it was a cry. None of them thought it was a muffled scream type thing," Dorn said. "And none of them stopped to investigate.
"So all we're trying to do was attempt to put some sort of small type of identifier there" Dorn added. "If they heard muffled cries or screams or something of that nature, that they would know, 'Holy cow ... let's go in.'"
The tape also would help unit leaders and those on barracks security detail to know at a glance which rooms had female occupants and might warrant extra watchfulness, Dorn said.
Brigade leaders now will review barracks policies and regulations "and consider other ideas that can increase the safety of all soldiers," 8th U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Budzyna told Stars and Stripes in an e-mail Thursday.