FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2015
*** STATEMENT ***
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS RESPONDS TO NEW REPORT EXPOSING RAMPANT RETALIATION AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT AGAINST SURVIVORS OF MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Pentagon released its annual report on sexual assault in the military. The report provides disturbing details of this entrenched problem, as well as the widespread mistreatment of survivors. Both the results of a large anonymous survey conducted by RAND Corporation and the Department of Defense’s own numbers on official reports demonstrate a systemic failure in confronting rape in the military.
The report shows no significant improvement in assault and harassment rates from five years ago. In 2014 alone, 20,300 service members were sexually assaulted or raped, many by their fellow service members.
Disturbingly, 62% of service members who reported sexual assault experienced retaliation for coming forward. The majority of these victims experienced reprisal from their chain of command, with 35% facing adverse administrative action, 32% facing professional retaliation, and 11% receiving punishment for an infraction. Instead of taking responsibility for these numbers, the DoD has shamefully attempted to undermine victims, labeling reports of retaliation as simply “perceived”
In addition, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 14 men in the military were sexually harassed or experienced gender discrimination in 2014, and 60% of service members who were sexually harassed were harassed by someone in their chain of command.
RAND reports: “At such high rates, sexual harassment…could affect cohesion within military units, degrade mission effectiveness, and result in voluntary separations from service of qualified service members who find these behaviors to be an unacceptable condition of employment.”
Today, Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor and Protect Our Defenders President Col Don Christensen (ret.) released the following statement:
“The report released today is an overwhelming indictment both of the hostile environment that women and men in the military face, as well as the Pentagon’s continued attempts to minimize the severity and scope of the problem.
“The Pentagon’s shameful attempt to downplay the retaliation that an overwhelming number of survivors experience for simply reporting their assault is offensive to the men and women who serve our military.
“Further, the fact that a majority of offenders of sexual harassment are in the victim’s chain of command should raise deep concerns about our military leaders. This report shows that the people who have been entrusted to create a safe climate for victims and administer justice in sexual assault cases are the same people perpetrating this unacceptable behavior in the first place.”
Washington Post: Male on male sexual assault in the military: Overlooked and hard to fix, investigation finds
Associated Press: Military Sexual Assault Reports Rose In 2014
Bloomberg: Military Sex-Assault Victims See Retaliation as Reports Rise
Huffington Post: Commanders Flunk on Military Justice for Troops
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country and re-victimized by the military adjudication system. POD provides pro bono casework and legal assistance to survivors. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.