Increased Support for Military Rape Survivors

One in five military women have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Can a "zero tolerance" policy help?

By Dara Sharif


The proud service of the nation's military has long been marred by a shameful reality: About 1 in 5 military women report being sexually harassed, groped, threatened or assaulted.

Adding to the pain these service members endure has been the systemic failure by the military to protect sexual harassment and rape survivors from further abuse.

Now, the Department of Defense has come up with a new set of policies it hopes will help it better enforce its "zero tolerance" of sexual assaults, the Navy Times reports.

The new rules put in place some common-sense measures long sought by advocates for military rape survivors, including:

  • Faster transfers for survivors whose reports of abuse can be viewed without restrictions.
  • Training for sexual-assault response coordinators and victims' advocates.
  • Requiring assault and prevention training for all members of the military.
  • Clearer rules for handling evidence and storing records.
  • Making the current Sexual Assault Prevention and Response helpline the official and only crisis-intervention hotline for the DOD.

The new regulations highlight "the department's commitment to combating sexual assault on every level within the military," said Army Major General Gary Patton, Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

The regulations come on the heels of requirements regarding military sexual-assault survivors set by the 2013 Defense Authorization Act.

The harrowing stories have been detailed by the Service Women's Action Network in testimony before Congress.

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