SEXUAL ASSAULT REPORTS INCREASE AT U.S. MILITARY SERVICE ACADEMIES
Date: December 21 2012
Women veterans’ organization points to need for improved avenues for justice and equal opportunity at institutions training next military leaders
NEW YORK – Reported sexual assault at the nation's three military academies jumped by 23 percent overall this year, according to the Pentagon report released today. The number of assaults rose from 65 in the 2011 academic year to 80 in 2012. Data indicated a continued reluctance by victims to seek criminal investigations - nearly half the assaults involved victims who sought confidential medical or other care and did not spur an investigation.
“The high prevalence of sexual violence at the Service Academies correlates to the limited avenues for redress available to cadets and midshipmen who are victims of sexual harassment of assault,” said Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director of the Service Women’s Action Network and a former Marine Corps Captain. “In a civilian college setting, victims of sexual violence are protected from discrimination by Title IX. That means that if civilian colleges fail to respond appropriately to student complaints, students can hold their universities liable. Not so for Academy students. There is no true deterrent to sexual violence at the Academies.”
DOD presented the report on Academic Year 2011-2012 to Congress this morning, and held a press conference later in the afternoon.
The report also details the results of a voluntary Service Academy Gender Relations (SAGR) Survey, conducted in the spring of 2012. In the 12 months prior to the survey, 12.4% of women and 2.0% of men indicated experiencing unwanted sexual contact, and 51% of women and 10% of men indicated experiencing sexual harassment.
“More than half of women surveyed at the Academies experienced sexual harassment, which is not surprising,” said Bhagwati. “Thanks in large part to the Combat Exclusion Policy, women are grossly underrepresented at the Service Academies, making up less than 23% of enrolled students at each school. This contributes to a culture in which discrimination against women can flourish. Transforming the culture which disrespects women at the Academies is a vital step to instilling moral leadership among our future officers.”
SWAN‘s briefing paper on this year’s Academy report will be available to the public shortly.
SWAN staff is available for appearance, comment or interview.
SWAN is a national nonpartisan civil rights organization founded and led by women veterans. SWAN’s mission is to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and the freedom to serve in uniform without discrimination, harassment or assault; and to reform veterans’ services to ensure high quality health care and benefits for women veterans and their families. You can follow Service Women’s Action Network on Twitter at http://twitter.com/servicewomen, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/servicewomen.