Sexual Assault in the Military
Challenge the Chain of Command
Since 1992, military leaders have claimed there will be a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual assault. But an estimated 26,000 sexual assaults occurred in 2012 under military jurisdiction. Of those, only 3,374 were officially reported, and just 300 were prosecuted. Survivors – both women and men – say that they fear retaliation and do not believe that their complaints will be taken seriously.
Many sexual assaults in the military are not reported due to fear of retaliation because of the chain of command victims must use to report these crimes. Victims must report to their commanders, or bosses, who have final say over whether criminal charges are brought in military courts.
A bill sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the Military Justice Improvement Act, would put unbiased, trained military prosecutors to review cases, instead of commanders. By removing these cases from the chain of command, the MJIA promises to reverse a culture of fear that silences victims and prevents them from seeking justice. In March 2014, Gillibrand won support from 55 senators, a majority but short of the 60 needed to move the bill forward. The good news? Gillibrand explains the Senate was able to put some good reforms in place — reforms like making sure every victim has a victim’s advocate, and making sure the “good soldier” defense cannot be used in proceedings.
1. Educate yourself about MJIA and hear from survivors
2. Watch: The Invisible War (now streaming on Netflix) – a documentary about rape in the U.S. Military. Host a screening party and then:
3. Sign this petition to the 113th US Senate