In today’s LA Times, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) sheds light on the staggering number of sexual assaults within the military, stating, “Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq,” and calls on Congress and the military to do more to protect servicewomen:
At the heart of this crisis is an apparent inability or unwillingness to prosecute rapists in the ranks. According to DOD statistics, only 181 out of 2,212 subjects investigated for sexual assault in 2007, including 1,259 reports of rape, were referred to courts-martial, the equivalent of a criminal prosecution in the military. Another 218 were handled via nonpunitive administrative action or discharge, and 201 subjects were disciplined through “nonjudicial punishment,” which means they may have been confined to quarters, assigned extra duty or received a similar slap on the wrist. In nearly half of the cases investigated, the chain of command took no action; more than a third of the time, that was because of “insufficient evidence.” [...]
The absence of rigorous prosecution perpetuates a culture tolerant of sexual assault — an attitude that says “boys will be boys.”
A Department of Defense report released this month found 2,688 reports of sexual assault in the military in FY2007. According to Harman, the number of reported military rapes jumped 73 percent from 2004 to 2006.