Sexual Assault in the Military
Women in the US military are more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped by one of her fellow soldiers than she is to die in a combat situation. It is estimated that 80% of military women have been sexually harassed and 25% have been sexual assaulted while serving in the US military.
A vast majority of sexual assaults are not reported. Of those that are reported even fewer are taken to trial. According to a 2012 Pentagon survey around 26,000 military personnel were believed to have been sexual assaulted. It is estimated that 12,100 were women and 13,900 were men. Fewer than half of the reported sexual assaults incidents included intoxication. Of those 26,000 incidents only 3,374 were reported. Only 484 went to trail and only 376 led to any type of conviction.
One of the reasons for the large gap between the number of sexual assault incidents and those reported is the report of punishments that were given to those who reported the assaults. Some service members have even reported that they were dismissed from their military service after they reported being assaulted.
According to the Pentagon, many of the cases of sexual assault actually have male victims. Most cases of assault happened to men by other men. There are a few cases of men being assaulted by a woman or women. Military rape laws only cover women who are raped by a man while in service. While women have a higher percentage because there are fewer women in the military, more men have been assaulted when looking at the straight numbers alone.
The military has responded to some of the statistics by creating campaigns to educate and speak out against assaults. Some critics believe they have overly simplified their campaigns or have ignored the fact that more men are assaulted than women. An example of one such campaign reminds male service members that they should avoid having sexual contact with a woman if they are under the influence of alcohol.
Another reason that the problem continues is the structure of leadership within the military. The leaders in the chain of command have the authority to decide what steps are taken to investigate a report. They can decide how long the investigation lasts, if any investigation takes place at all. They also have the authority to overturn convictions. Commanding officers have been known to dismiss those that have reported sexual assaults or to assign them to lower positions as a form of punishment.