Protect Our Defenders News Blog


***PRESS RELEASE*** Protect Our Defenders Executive Director Testifies at Congressional Hearing


April 5, 2017



Washington, D.C. – Today, Miranda Petersen, Executive Director of Protect Our Defenders, testified at a Congressional hearing hosted by the Democratic Working Women’s Group to address the ongoing issue of nonconsensual pornography within the United States military. This issue has been most recently highlighted by the Marines United case, but it has long existed in all branches of our armed forces, even after military leadership has made promises to address the underlying issues. Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller or his deputy were also scheduled to testify, but withdrew from the hearing yesterday.

Below is a full video of the hearing. Miranda’s testimony starts around the 30min mark:

Last month, it was reported that the Department of Defense (DoD) “is investigating scores of enlisted marines for compiling thousands of naked photos of service women, often surreptitiously, and distributing them through Facebook and Google Drive.” The photos along with profane and abusive comments were discovered on the Facebook group, “Marines United” which claims to have 30,000 followers.

Nude and explicit photos of servicewomen were posted to the group along with obscene comments sometimes calling for rape of the women. On many occasions the women were identified by name and military branch. Many of the offensive comments were by members whose Facebook accounts brazenly included their names, ranks and duty stations.

Miranda Petersen, Executive Director of Protect Our Defenders, testified at the hearing:

“The use of online sites to harass and humiliate female service members may pose unique challenges to military leadership and law enforcement, but the underlying sentiments being expressed by the men on sites like Marines United are nothing new. These pages are simply a modern manifestation of a longstanding culture within the military that sexualizes and denigrates female service members under the guise of camaraderie and tradition. This toxic culture has been tacitly condoned and allowed to persist by military leaders who have consistently ignored evidence of this behavior and have opposed reforms to improve the climate at almost every turn.”

To read her full remarks click here.

NBC Washington: Democratic Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Marine Nude Photo Scandal

Daily Beast: Marine Leaders Pull Out of House Hearing

Washington Post: ‘I’m never reenlisting.’ Marine Corps rocked by nude-photo scandal

Reveal News: Hundreds of Marines investigated for sharing photos of naked colleagues

NPR: Marine Corps Finds It Tough To Shut Down Sexist Facebook Groups

About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We are the only national organization solely dedicated to addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including both service members and civilians assaulted by members of the military. We seek reform to ensure all survivors have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at