Sexual assault in the U.S. military is occurring at a much higher rate than the Defense Department has previously admitted, a new report released Monday revealed.
After investigating more than 100 sexual assault cases that took place on four large domestic military bases, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a ranking
member of the Armed Services Committee,
released a damning critique of the Pentagon’s response to the problem, which included what she said were lenient punishments and a culture of disbelief of the victims.
In the report, titled Snapshot Review of Sexual Assault Report Files at the Four Largest U.S. Military Bases in 2013 (pdf), Gillibrand looked at cases which occurred at the Army’s Fort Hood base in Texas, the Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton in California, and the Air Force’s Wright-Patterson Base in Ohio.
She found that nearly half of survivors who filed unrestricted reports later dropped their cases in the process of filing. And according to the DoD’s most recent sexual assault report (pdf), “62 percent of women who reported a sexual assault perceived some form of retaliation—a rate unmoved from previous reports despite a commitment to change the climate,” the report states.
“I don’t think the military is being honest about the problem,” Gillibrand told the Associated Press on Monday.
“Even with the much-lauded reforms, the system remains plagued with distrust and simply does not provide the fair and just process that survivors deserve.”
—Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand