Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today released the following statement on the Department of Defense’s latest report on sexual assault in the military:
“This is more of the same. All of the positive rhetoric ignores the reality that 75 percent of the men and women in uniform who have been sexually assaulted lack the confidence in the military justice system to come forward and report the crimes committed against them.
“Contrary to mission accomplished, we are right back on 2010 levels for sexual assault. This is a system where 19,000 men and women a year – an average of 52 new cases every day – face sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact. The military has pledged zero tolerance for over 20 years. There is no other mission in the world for our military where this much failure would be allowed.
“We kept hearing how previous reforms were going to protect victims, and make retaliation a crime. Yet there has been zero progress to reduce retaliation. The rate hasn’t budged since 2012. Still, 62 percent of women who reported perceived some form of retaliation, over one-third of whom said they experienced administrative action, and 40 percent of whom said they faced other forms of professional retaliation. That tells you everything you need to know about the climate for these survivors. This is a climate where 76 percent of the servicewomen and nearly half of the servicemen who were surveyed said sexual harassment is common or very common. A climate where supervisors and unit leaders are responsible for sexual harassment and gender discrimination in nearly 60 percent of all cases demonstrates a system deeply in need of further reform before there can be trust in the chain of command.
“It is time to say enough is enough. Incremental progress at best just isn’t good enough when the problem undermining the readiness of the military is this deep. The men and women of our military deserve a system of justice worthy of their sacrifice. We need actions to give them an unbiased military justice system that will root out and punish sexual predators – not the status quo, which continues to protect them.”