Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called for tougher action against sexual assault in the US military Thursday after an annual Pentagon report said the number of assaults in 2018 had risen from recent years.
Sexual assaults reported by Defense Department employees, both men and women, jumped 13% last year to 7,263 compared to 2017.
Moreover, actual sexual assaults were likely to be about triple the reported number, given the estimate that just one out of three victims in the military file a complaint.
It is clear that sexual assault and sexual harassment are persistent challenges, Shanahan said in a statement.
To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other. This is unacceptable.
Based on a survey taken only every two years, the report said that not only the number but the prevalence of sexual assault was on the rise in 2018.
Around 6.2% of women in the Department of Defense experienced sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact in 2018, compared to 4.3% two years earlier, Report.
The level for men was much lower and relatively stable: 0.7% experienced assault in 2018, slightly higher than 0.6% two years ago.
The problem was worst in the Marines: some 10.7% of women in that service reported sexual assault last year, compared to 7.5% in the Navy and lower rates in the other services.
Sexual assaults on men from all services was in the 0.7-0.8% range.
But the overall estimates for assaults reported and not reported underscore the problem for both genders: last year, the Pentagon estimates, more than 7,000 men and 13,000 women were assaulted.
Assaults target youngest recruits:
According to the report the youngest women were at the highest risk and that their attackers were like them most often of low rank, equal to or slightly higher than the victim.
We have to look and see what is happening with the 17 to 24 year-olds that our programs are not accounting for, said Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
Thursday, May 2, 2019, by AFP