United States: Department of Defense Finds More Women are Reporting Sexual Assault in the Military
Monday, December 15, 2014 11:25 AM

Reported cases of sexual assault and rape in the U.S. military increased last year by eight percent, according to a recent report on sexual assault prevention and response prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense (US DOD). Despite the rise in reported cases of sexual violence, from 5000 in 2013 to 5,400 in 2014, the US DOD study found that the overall prevalence of sexual violence in the military had decreased between 2012 and 2014. The US DOD attributed the rise in reported cases to an increase in the amount of reporting by victims, with one in four victims reporting sexual violence in 2014 as compared to one in ten victims in 2012.

However, the report also revealed that nearly two thirds of women who reported sexual assault or rape experienced some form of retaliation, often from peers and co-workers. As reported in Newsweek, critics of the military's approach to sexual violence say this is an indication that the “climate still isn’t safe for victims.”

The US DOD acknowledged that continued under-reporting of sexual violence and retaliation against victims presented significant challenges for the military. The Department announced additional measures to combat these problems, including a study on risk factors and sexual violence prevention across the military. US DOD also said it would conduct trainings for supervisors on preventing and responding to sexual violence as well as identifying and preventing retaliation among subordinates. During a recent press conference on the issue, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated, “[w]e still have a long way to go.”

Compiled from: Ziv, Stav, Report on sexual assault in the military draws criticism, Newsweek (December 8, 2014); Cooper, Helene, Reports of sexual assaults in military on rise, New York Times (December 3, 2014); Fact sheet: report to the president of the United States on sexual assault prevention and response, U.S. Department of Defense, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (December 4, 2014).