This week, the United States Senate will be debating the Military Justice Improvement Act. The controversial legislation would alter the military legal process as it stands. Rather than the "chain of command" handling prosecution, cases will be dealt with by an "impartial military prosecutor."
You should care about this because it will change how the military deals with rape and sexual assault by stifling "retaliation" against those reporting sexual crimes, as well as instating a dishonorable discharge policy for those convicted of sexual assault.
It may not be a situation you are familiar with, but I encourage you to educate yourself and support this legislation as it proceeds this week. Read the facts below and reach out to your state government to let them know why a "Yes" vote matters to you.
50 Facts About Sexual Assault in the US Military
(As Re-Printed From the Huffington Post)
- In 2012, surveyed Active Duty Members of the military anonymously revealed 26,000 instances of unwanted sexual contact. This included coerced and abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault and rape -- all prohibited by military law.
- Women make up 15 percent of active-duty forces, but 47 percent of sexual assault victims.
- 13,900 of the victims were men.
- In one study, 37 percent of female veterans report being raped at least twice.
- Additionally, 14 percent of female veterans report experiences of gang rape.
- "Gee whiz, the level -- the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur." - Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. on military sexual assaults at a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting.
- About 75 percent of women who were assaulted did not report their attacks.
- 76 percent of men who were sexually assaulted did not report their attacks.
- The Pentagon estimates that 85 percent of sexual assault crimes go unreported.
- About 40 percent of victims in one study indicated that the perpetrator was their ranking officer.
- One-third of victims indicate that the perpetrator was a ranking officer's friend.
- 43 percent heard about negative experiences from other victims who had reported and 50 percent thought nothing would be done.
- During the reported period, only 302 service members faced punishment or dismissal as the result of being charged: Less than 2.5 percent of the total suspected number of acts of sexual assaults and rape.
- Fully 20 percent of survivors of sexual assault and Liz Trotta think that rape is "to be expected" in the military.
- "I was repeatedly drugged and raped by several of my superior officers over a nine-month period. ...There was no one I could turn to because, like so many victims of sexual assault in the military, my attackers were in my chain of command. So I kept my mouth shut." - Testimony of Trina McDonald, who was 18 when she was stationed in Alaska and assaulted.
- 62 percent of victims who reported sexual assault experienced retaliation.
- "They gave him the Military Professional of the Year Award during the rape investigation."
- Military victims of violent assault or rape are 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than service members and veterans who have not experienced sexual assault and rape.
- Estimated number of pregnancies resulting from rape in the military: Unknown
- In the past 25 years, more than 500,000 people have been sexually assaulted in the military.
- 22 years (1981-2013): the duration of the law that denied women in the military insurance coverage for abortions while they served. Jessica Kenyon was allegedly raped while stationed in Korea. She didn't report the rape because she was "was trying to 'soldier on' and didn't trust [her] chain of command." She found out she'd been forcibly impregnated when a doctor told her commanding officer, who called her into his office to say she'd be charged with adultery (she was divorced, so was not charged). She could not get an abortion on base and was discharged.
- 79 percent of women serving in the military during the past 40 years report persistent experiences of sexual harassment.
- Feel "like a ho?" Question asked by Andrew Weinstein, the lawyer for one of three U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen accused of sexually assaulting a classmate. During 30 hours of grueling questioning she was also asked, "Were you wearing a bra?" "Were you wearing underwear?" and what her oral sex technique is.
- "The command's attitude towards rape is why most victims don't report rapes...The man did not get convicted even though he had raped multiple women in [military] law enforcement."
- The chances of a female veteran developing PTSD are nine times more likely if she has been sexually assaulted.
- Veterans with PTSD linked to military sexual trauma are significantly more likely to be denied disability compensation, especially male survivors.
- 66: Age of man who still has to sit with his back to a wall after being raped three times, 47 years ago at Lackland Air Force Base.
- 48,100 women and 43,700 men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, responding to a survey, acknowledged suffering from military sexual trauma.
- Heath X reported that he was gang raped, told he was lying, threatened, bullied, assaulted again and tried to commit suicide all during his first month in the service. He left, became homeless, was incarcerated and was diagnosed as suffering "intense psychological pain." He was taken to a Naval jail, and then returned to his post where he had to serve with the "gang of molesters" that had attacked him before. He was violently assaulted before and given the day off. He faced court-martial or dishonorable discharge. He was denied benefits because he was dishonorably discharged. He was 18.
- "Take an aspirin and go to bed." - Response to survivor of assault after being raped by her superior officer.
- 90 percent of survivors of sexual assault in the military are involuntarily discharged.
- 80 percent of perpetrators and those accused are discharged with honor.
- "Rape is part of the job description," "jokes" a rape survivor when discussing her assaults and the environment in which they took place.
- Female veterans become homeless at a rate 3 to 4 times greater than civilian women, according to a 1996 study.
- 53 percent of a growing number of homeless female veterans have experienced military sexual trauma.
- "You're probably just a little slut." - One of many similar responses to Kate Weber's describing being raped on a fire escape and being then pushed off, falling two stories.
- Studies have found that men and women handle combat stress equally well, but that military sexual trauma -- avoidable and overwhelmingly inflicted by fellow soldiers -- is the only factor increasing the additional risk of PTSD among women. Military Sexual Trauma is the primary source of PTSD for women, whereas combat experience is the strongest contributing factor of PTSD in men.
- Black female veterans report that they experience more unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion. Veterans who are white women report higher incidences of sexual and gender-based harassment.
- Enlisted women report higher rates of harassment, coercion and assault than officers do. Because, we all know that rape is about accidents and sex and not entitlement and status and the opportunity they create.
- "If you tell anyone, I'll tell them you're a dyke." - What Michelle Jones' squad leader told her after he sexually attacked her.
- "Service members must report rape to their commanders. However, if their commanders take action and prove that rape occurred, they also prove a failure of their own leadership."- Brian Lewis, who was 20 when he was raped while in the Navy.
- Men make up 85.5 percent of the armed forces.
- By the terms of the current military legal code of justice system a general's decision to overturn a jury verdict is the final word.
- Men in the military academies have a markedly higher propensity to believe in stereotypical gender roles and rape myths which typically include the ideas that survivors are lying and, if telling the truth, to blame.
- Men make up 92.1% of top-ranked military officers.
- "I have never met one person who has reported a sexual assault offense and kept her career."
- Kori Cioca was serving in the US Coast Guard when she was raped by a commanding officer. He also broke her jaw, leaving her with lifelong pain and serious depression. When she attempted to bring him to justice, she was informed by her commanding officer that she'd be court martial as a liar; the man, who granted that an assault happened, but said it did not include rape was restricted to his base for 30 days without pay for a short time. Maybe a book report would have been more effective.
- "It is hard to be a Military Sexual Trauma spouse -- not hard to be with a survivor, but hard because at times I feel so helpless to the trauma." Kori Cioca's husband.
- 55: Number of senators who have not said whether they support the Military Justice Improvement Act or not.
- "Sleep it off."
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.