Military sexual assault
Active duty female personnel make up nearly 15% of our current armed forces, or about 200,000 of our 1.3 million servicemembers. Even before the ban prohibiting women from participating in combat was lifted, many female troops were experienced in combat. Unfortunately, many of these Americans have also experienced the ugly specter of military sexual assault (MSA) committed by fellow servicemembers. It is estimated nearly one of every three female military personnel has been sexually assaulted, compared with an average of one of every six female civilians. There were 3,374 military sexual assaults reported to the Department of Defense (DOD) by servicemembers in 2012; 5,061 in 2014. However, about 85% of all MSAs are not reported and in 2012, our Pentagon estimated there were actually 26,000 sexual assaults, or about 71 each day that year.

Although men are also sexually assaulted in the military, most of the victims of MSA are female junior enlists under the age of 25. The vast majority of perpetrators are older, generally higher-ranking males under the age of 35. Advocates claim these crimes undermine the morale and cohesion of our military units. They also say many convicted offenders go unpunished because superiors often overturn their convictions. The Obama administration has enacted new rules to fight this scourge. One rule would expand the role victims have in court-martial and sentencing processes. Another would require all MSA reports submitted by victims who wish to press charges against the offender be immediately brought to the attention of the first general or admiral in the chain of command of that organization. Critics say these rules do not go far enough to ensure military sexual assaults will no longer occur.

A recent study found the DOD also vastly underreports the number of sexual assaults committed by servicemembers against civilians, including many assaults against civilian spouses of military personnel. It concluded that about half of all military sexual assaults are now being committed against civilians. However, these statistics are not counted in the DOD’s sexual assault prevalence reports. Advocates claim there could be twice as many military sexual assaults occurring than the 20,000 cases of sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact estimated in 2014.

Pending Legislation:
H.R.1603 - Military SAVE Act
H.R.2026 - Support Uniformed Patriots; Prevent Offenses and Restore Trust Act or SUPPORT Act

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Poll Opening Date
March 26, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 1, 2020

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