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Marine Corps guidelines now ban online sexual harassment

It's an important step, but will it do much to prevent future scandals?
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Scott Olson via Getty Images

The US Marine Corps has already started to crack down on soldiers sharing nude photos of women soldiers through internet groups, but it now has a better way of tackling this behavior. The military branch has published updated guidelines that explicitly forbid various forms of online sexual harassment, including "indecent viewing, visual recording, or broadcasting." Marines represent the Corps and their units "at all times," and that includes when they post on social networks.

It's far from certain that this will lead to more disciplinary action. Sexual harassment in the military certainly hasn't been limited to Facebook groups, and curbing the activity may require a broader cultural shift where women infantry are no longer considered novelties. The Corps will also have to prove that it's willing to enforce these guidelines when there are isolated incidents, not just publicly humiliating scandals.

However, the newer rule set will at least give prosecutors more ammo when pursuing a case. It might also serve as a deterrent if Marines get sufficient education on the policy. And it won't be surprising if this language spreads to other military branches worried that they may run into similar trouble.

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