In its latest report, the Department of Defense says more than 2,700 service members reported being sexually assaulted in 2012. Tuesday, Washington Senator Patty Murray introduced a new bill she says will help better protect victims of military sexual assault from intimidation and systemic challenges.
According to the Department of Defense, many victims of sexual assault often don’t report the crime. As a result, the DOD estimates that number of victims in 2012 is nearly 10 times the reported number, closer to 26,000.
A lack of confidence in reporting an assault isn't the only challenge for service members, according to Sen. Patty Murray. Victims who chose to report face obstacles too.
Murray spoke on the Senate floor about one Washington National Guard Soldier’s experience.
“After being assaulted during her monthly drill on a military base. she took all the necessary steps, including calling the sexual assault response coordinator," Murray says. "But she was told because the assault happened during monthly drill, not on active duty, the sexual assault response coordinator could not help her."
Murray says her new bill would ensure that doesn’t happen.
Under the new bill, advocates would be available at all times for sexual assault victims in the National Guard and Reserve. It would also require that sexual assault cases be referred to the next level of authority for court marital if there’s a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.
The bill now heads to the Armed Services Committee for review.
Copyright 2013 KUOW