Pentagon report: Sexual assault is up 13% in the US military
A new Pentagon report says that one in 12 women on active duty (8.4%) and 1.5% of men reported having been assaulted or subjected to an assault attempt in 2021.
According to a Defense Department survey published on Thursday, which began to collect data in 2015, nearly 36,000 service members said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact, a sharp increase over the 20,500 victims among active-duty personnel found in 2018, the last time the survey was conducted.
About one in 12 women on active duty (8.4%) reported having been assaulted or subjected to an assault attempt in the last year, while figures for men doubled to 1.5%, the Pentagon’s Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for 2021 reports.
Nearly one in every three active-duty women (29%) had reported sexual harassment on the job, with a quarter of these claiming to have been assaulted. At the same time, the report rate has declined so that only one in five assaults are now reported – down from one-third in 2018.
Accordingly, trust in the ability of military leaders to protect the privacy and safety of victims and treat them with dignity has cratered 20 or more points among both male and female service members.
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“These numbers are tragic and extremely disappointing,” Elizabeth Foster, the Pentagon’s executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency, told reporters on Thursday.
“These events not only have an impact at an individual level, but they also degrade our readiness and ability for the department to conduct our mission.”
Following last year’s Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, the Pentagon has already begun implementing new procedures to deal with the crisis, including the establishment of special victims’ units to handle sex crimes.
The department is expected to hire over 2,000 people to staff the new units, which will take responsibility for prosecuting sexual assaults out of the military chain of command.
House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel chair and California congresswoman Jackie Speier promised a hearing in the weeks to come, vowing to bring “the watchful eye of Congress” to bear in order to “address this national embarrassment and crisis.”
She suggested a direct causal link between the Defense Department’s failure to address the sexual misconduct epidemic and its inability to meet recruitment goals.
This #WHM, we remember SPC Vanessa Guillén & salute all our brave women servicemembers & veterans who protect us. Vanessa dreamed of serving her nation & paid w/her life. Her legacy catalyzed a movement to take sexual assault, murder & other crimes out of the chain of command. pic.twitter.com/qAKcOYLQkt— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) March 17, 2022
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