Sexual Assault in the Military is Increasing as Reporting Decreases

Sexual assault in the military has increased dramatically from 2016 to 2018, in spite of efforts to curb it. According to a study by the Department of Defense’s 2018 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, there has been a 38 percent increase in assaults over the last two years in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Based on the survey, there were 20,500 instances of unwanted sexual contact, which could be anything from groping to rape. That is an increase over the 14,900 instances in the last survey in 2016.

Young women in the troops were the most vulnerable, with 1 in 8 women from 17 to 20 years old being victimized. Women from 17 to 24 years old were the most likely to be assaulted, according to Nathan Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

Sexual assaults against women is at the highest level since 2006. Overall, six percent of women surveyed were assaulted. Four percent of women in the Air Force and 11 percent in the Marine Corps have been assaulted.

On top of that, 1 in 4 of all women in the military endure an “unhealthy climate” because of sexual abuse and 16 percent of all women faced gender discrimination, both of which increased in the last two years.

96 percent of the attackers were men and 89 percent were in the military. 62 percent of the time, the attacker was a friend or acquaintance of the victim and alcohol was also a major player. Alcohol was involved in 62 percent of all assaults.

However, while rates of assaults have been increasing, the rate of reporting sexual assaults has declined to 30 percent, a product of less confidence that authorities in the military will take claims seriously and dole out justice.

Sexual assaults in the military had actually started to trend down since 2006 when 34,000 troops reported sexual assault. Rates increased again from 2010 to 2012, but in 2016, the number of assaults had dropped to 14,900.

According to USA Today, the Pentagon is planning to release recommendations from a task force formed with the support of Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally to specifically deal with sexual assault in the military.

But it’s not known how or if the Pentagon will help specifically Black women in the military, who represent a third of all females in the service and yet are disproportionately victims of discrimination and sexual violence. Once discharged, Black women suffer a disproportionate incidence of Military Sexual Trauma.

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