Reports have arisen that sexual assaults in the military are on a steady incline despite efforts to combat the epidemic.
According to the annual report released by the Department of Defense, sexual assaults in the military occurred at an average of more than 70 per day. Reports of abuse rose during October 2011 through September 2012 by 6% from the prior year. A total amount of 26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact, roughly 7,000 more than the previous year.
The report released by the Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SARPO) comes after the arrest of Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Krusinski, head of SARPO. Krusinski allegedly sexually assaulted a woman on May 5th, whilst in a drunken stupor. He has been removed from duty pending the investigation.
The startling statistics from the report in combination with Krusinski’s arrest have indicated little to no progress on the issue of military sexual assault. Representative Mike Turner (R-Ohio) stated:
“The numbers show that sexual assaults are actually increasing, not decreasing, at a time when the leadership in Congress has made it a significant issue. The arrest of the SAPRO officer is an absolute personal failure as well as a professional failure, and raises concerns about, is this irony, or just reflective of a significant cultural issue?”
The incident also coincides with the Pentagon’s high profile effort to reduce sexual assault in the military, with a goal to eliminate it entirely. Pentagon press secretary George Little addressed the allegations against Krusinski yesterday on behalf of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, stating:
“Secretary Hagel expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively. Secretary Hagel has been directing the department’s leaders to elevate their focus on sexual assault prevention and response, and he will soon announce next steps in our ongoing efforts to combat this vile crime.”
Only 3,374 cases of the 26,000 estimated sexual assaults were reported. 62% of victims who did report an assault felt revictimized or retaliated against for reporting their assault.
The Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013 will be introduced this afternoon. The bill aims to provide victims with a Special Victims’ Counsel, and expand SARPO’s authority so that it can provide better oversight and refer cases to the general court martial.
Members of Congress are scheduled to be briefed on the report this afternoon, and Major General Gary Patton, the director of SAPRO, will brief the media.
What do you think can be done to prevent sexual assault in the military? Let us know in the comments down below!