Military Sexual Assault Epidemic Continues To Claim Victims As Defense Department Fails Females

Military Sexual Assault Epidemic Continues To Claim Victims As Defense
Department Fails Females
Molly O'Toole 10/06/2012

.....Active-duty female personnel make up roughly 14.5 percent -- or
207,308 members -- of the more than 1.4 million Armed Forces,
according to the Department of Defense.

One in three military women has been sexually assaulted, compared to
one in six civilian women, according to Defense. According to
calculations by The Huffington Post, a servicewoman was nearly 180
times more likely to have become a victim of military sexual assault
(MSA) in the past year than to have died while deployed during the
last 11 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to the most recent report by the Pentagon's Sexual Assault
Prevention and Response Office, 3,192 sexual assaults were reported
out of an estimated 19,000 -- roughly 52 a day -- between Oct. 1,
2010, to Sept. 31, 2011. The department estimates that only roughly 14
percent of the assaults were reported. The majority of sexual assaults
each year are committed against service members by service members,
SAPRO reports. While MSA does not affect only women, the office
characterizes the "vast majority" of victims as female junior enlists
under the age of 25, and the "vast majority" of perpetrators as male,
older (under the age of 35) and generally higher-ranking.

.....The Department also counts as a small victory the increased use of
courts-martial charges over the past five years and less reliance on
nonjudicial punishments. But this increase only represents the courts
martial charges that were initiated. By the end of FY2011, only 240 of
the original 3,192 reported crimes had made it to trial. Just under 6
percent of the total reports resulted in a conviction by courts
martial. According to SAPRO's latest report, "most" of the people
convicted in FY2011 were reduced in rank or placed into confinement,
but fines were more common than discharges. But the punitive measures
the military is handing down may not mitigate the risks: Repeat
offenders, according to the report, commit 90 percent of all assaults.

The now-benighted concept of "don't ask, don't tell" still holds true
in the case of military sexual assault: Due to a climate of impunity
and retaliation, many survivors suffer in silence.

Panetta's refrain for years has been heartening: "One sexual assault
is too many."

To which Havrilla responds, "This whole concept of 'zero tolerance,'
it's just words and no action."

"You can't leave. You can't quit. You can't walk away."