Press Release

Gillibrand, Ernst Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Thwart Military Sexual Assault

May 25, 2017

Washington, DC Today, United States Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), ranking member of the Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation known as the Educating Servicemembers in Training On Prevention (E-STOP) Act. This legislation would implement educational steps to thwart military sexual assault by mandating in-person, comprehensive sexual assault prevention training, and teaches proper use of social media for newly enlisted servicemembers in all branches of the U.S. military before they depart for basic training.

“We’ve seen from the Defense Department’s own sexual assault crime data and from the shameful scandal involving cyber misconduct that military sexual assault is still as pervasive as ever,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bipartisan bill would help make sure that all new enlistees who are waiting to enter boot camp will be trained to identify and respond to sexual assault. This is an important step toward making sure our entire military has the education and training they need to fight back against sexual assault and harassment, including on social media, and I am proud to work with Senator Ernst to pass this bill.”

“Sexual assault and disgusting online activity will continue to plague our nation and our military until we take concrete steps forward to address this horrific issue and change the culture within our society,” said Senator Ernst, a combat veteran. “This legislation gives the military an opportunity to lead by example, and it ensures they don’t create an ineffective computer-based teaching program to do it. The military can help prevent sexual assaults and horrific online activity from happening in the first place by sitting down and talking with servicemembers about what is right, and what is wrong. This is especially important for those just entering the service, and it is my hope that this reinforces that these acts will not be tolerated.”

About this legislation:
  • The Educating Servicemembers in Training On Prevention (E-STOP) Act mandates the Department of Defense develop and implement sexual assault prevention training for servicemembers in the Delayed Entry Program, and that the training should be in person and cover the proper use of social media.
  • The Delayed Entry Program is for servicemembers who have taken the oath of enlistment, but are waiting to depart for basic training. They may be in the program anywhere from a day to a year while waiting for their boot camp report date. As they wait, the servicemembers report in to the recruiting station often for training. 
  • This bipartisan legislation will ensure that men and women who chose the Delayed Entry Program before boot camp receive this extremely important training prior to their first day on active duty. It is not intended to delay any servicemember from departing for training.

Why this legislation is necessary:

  • While 2016 DoD annual report estimates that 14,900 U.S. servicemembers experienced a sexual assault, compared to 20,300 when the last comprehensive canvas was conducted in 2014, more must be done. 
  • Additionally, while about 1 in 3 servicemembers who experienced a sexual assault filed a report in 2016 (up from 1 in 14 a decade ago), 58 percent of those say they’ve experienced retaliation of some sort for coming forward.

Support for the legislation:

This bill has received support from the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Protect Our Defenders, Futures Without Violence, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN).

View the bill text here.