Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, announced that her Safe to Report Act passed the full Senate Armed Service Committee as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bipartisan Safe to Report Act would empower survivors of sexual violence to report assault without fear of collateral misconduct charges for minor offenses, such as underage drinking or breaking curfew.
“Sexual assault is a pervasive problem across our military and far too often we are failing to support and protect survivors,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Not only do too many survivors still fear retribution for reporting their experiences, but they also lack confidence that justice will be served if they come forward. We must do more to provide a safe environment for our men and women in uniform to report instances of sexual assault. I’m proud that the bipartisan Safe to Report Act passed the Senate Armed Service Committee and will be included in this year’s NDAA. Now I will fight alongside my colleagues to ensure it is signed into law.”
Senator Gillibrand has long been a champion of ending sexual assault in the military. Earlier this year, she announced the bipartisan Safe to Report Act to establish a “Safe to Report” policy in the military. As thousands of military sexual assault cases go unreported each year, the Safe to Report Act would empower survivors of sexual violence to report these incidents without fear of collateral misconduct charges for minor offenses, such as underage drinking or violating curfew. Sexual assault rates continue to rise across the military, while survivor reporting remains unacceptably low. Reports show that 1 in 16 women in the military reported being groped, raped, or otherwise sexually assaulted in 2018. In the same year, there were an estimated 20,500 instances of “unwanted sexual contact,” a 38% increase from 2016. Senator Gillibrand is pushing for an amendment to the NDAA to help increase reporting and ensure survivors are not penalized for being courageous enough to come forward and report their assault.
This bill has been endorsed by the National Women’s Law Center, Service Women’s Action Network, Protect Our Defenders, and National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is the Senate co-lead for the bill. Companion legislation to the Safe to Report Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 30 by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Representative Don Bacon (R-NE-2).