Mar 26 2009
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) today issued the following statement regarding the Department of Defense’s recent report that there has been a 7.6% increase in sexual assault reports involving military personnel. This finding, among others, can be found in the DOD’s annual report on sexual assault in the military, which was released yesterday:
“As someone who is actively engaged on this issue, I am deeply concerned with the Pentagon’s recent finding that reports of sexual violence in the military are on the rise,” said Sanchez. “Although the Services have taken major steps to prevent sexual assault in their ranks, this report clearly indicates that the issue has not been resolved.”
“Sexual abuse and other acts of misogyny go against everything the United States military stands for: service and honor,” Sanchez continued. “These are serious crimes, and I call on the Armed Services to ensure that they have serious consequences. Show the world that your ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for sexual assault is, in fact, zero-tolerance. In the meantime, I will continue to conduct Congressional oversight on this issue and work to establish a military environment that does not tolerate sexual violence or any type of abuse.”
The Department of Defense has only collected official data on sexual assault in the military since 2004. The most recent 2008 report indicates that there were 2,908 cases of sexual assault involving Military Service Members. This is a 7.6% increase from 2007, when 2,688 sexual assault cases were reported. Criminal investigations of sexual abuse have also increased, from 1,955 cases in 2007 to 2,389 cases in 2008. It is important to note these numbers in part reflect an increase in the number of sexual abuse victims willing to report their assaults and increased transparency in military reporting procedures.
Sanchez has been a longtime advocate for women in the military. In 2005, she led a successful effort to revise the Uniform Code of Military Justice to include a meaningful sexual assault statute that empowers victims and punishes offenders. Sanchez was also able to include language in the 2004 Defense Authorization Act to establish a Department of Defense task force to investigate sexual harassment and violence in the United States Military and Naval Academies.