Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Marines Confront Culture of Hazing in Wake of Trainee's Suicide

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Marines Confront Culture of Hazing in Wake of Trainee's Suicide

Article excerpt

Investigations sparked by the suicide of a US Marine Corps trainee, who fell nearly 40 feet in a stairwell, found a culture of verbal and physical abuse at the Parris Island training facility in South Carolina. A report released Thursday criticized commanders for turning a blind eye to abusive practices.

The report resulted from a six-month investigation into the death of Raheel Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Pakistani-American Muslim man from Taylor, Mich., who had told his relatives he wanted to serve his country and had been training for barely two weeks before he died on March 18. Marine officials said that on March 13 he reported that he wanted to commit suicide, according to The Washington Post. The attorney for his family, Nabih Ayad, has said that they had "always suspected hazing of some sort" in connection with his death.

"Today's announcement by the Marine Corps is a first step in ensuring the family of Private Raheel Siddiqui receives the answers they deserve and that the Marine Corps is addressing the serious issues that led to this tragedy," Rep. Debbie Dingell (D) of Michigan told the Post. "This is the very least the Siddiqui family - and the thousands of families across our country whose children serve in uniform - deserve."

Representative Dingell pushed for accountability after Mr. Siddiqui's death and introduced a bill to ease hazing, which has been an ongoing problem for every branch of the US military for decades.

"It goes on in all the services. It goes on in other countries' services," David Segal, of the University of Maryland's Center for Research on Military Organization, told The Christian Science Monitor in 1997. "It gets people to identify with the organization." He told the Monitor that the military had been trying to rein in abuse, and that had resulted in "less sadism."

The investigative report released Thursday did not mention Siddiqui by name, but it described an incident that appeared to be related to his death. The report describes an unnamed recruit who wrote a note to his drill instructor on March 18 complaining of a sore throat and asking to go to the infirmary. …

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