Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Editorial: Protecting our service members against sexual assault

The Washington Post editorial board writes in support of fundamental reform:

A DEFENSE Department report this month found that fewer men and women in uniform said they were subjected to unwanted sexual attention last year and that there has been an increase in victims reporting sex-related crimes. The improvements are, at best, incremental and overshadowed by the unsettling statistic that 62 percent of women who filed sexual assault complaints last year said they faced retaliation for doing so. Reforms that have been put in place, while commendable, are clearly not sufficient to combat a problem so deep-rooted it has plagued the military for decades.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is right in saying enough is enough. We hope her renewed push to correct a major defect in how these crimes are investigated and prosecuted gains traction in Congress.

The Pentagon report used a workplace survey to estimate that 18,900 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact or assault last year, down from 26,000 in 2012 but in line with 19,300 reported in 2010. Seventy-six percent of servicewomen and nearly half of servicemen who were surveyed said sexual harassment is common or very common. Victims are so distrustful about getting fair treatment that only a fraction of those who are assaulted report the offense.

Read more here.