Authored by U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights chose to focus on sexual assault in the U.S. military for its annual 2013 Statutory Enforcement Report. This report examines how the Department of Defense and its Armed Services-the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force (the Services)-respond to Service members who report having been sexually assaulted (“victims”) and how it investigates and disciplines Service members accused of perpetrating sexual assault (“perpetrators”). This report also reviews how the military educates Service members and trains military criminal investigators and military lawyers about sexual assault offenses. The topic is both relevant and timely, as Congress is currently considering ways to address this issue.
The Commission has authority to examine questions related to sexual assault in the military because the issues involve both sex discrimination and the denial of equal protection in the administration of justice. The issue of sex discrimination involves female Service members, who represent 14 percent of the military population, but are disproportionately likely to be victims at a rate five times that of their male counterparts. The questions related to a possible denial of equal protection in the administration of justice led the Commission to examine cases in which sexual assault victims, as well as Service members accused of sexual assault, claim unfair treatment in the military justice system.
Through this report, the Commission sheds light on the scope, response, investigation, and discipline of sexual assault in the U.S. military. The Commission held a briefing on January 11, 2013 to hear the testimony of military officials, scholars, advocacy groups, and practitioners on the topic of sexual assault in the military. In response to written questions from the Commission, the Department of Defense and its Armed Services provided documents and other materials, including data on investigated sexual assault allegations, which the Commission analyzed. The results of these efforts are memorialized in this report.
The report reveals that the Department of Defense may benefit from greater data collection to better understand trends in sexual assault cases and to implement improvements in future initiatives. Although the Department of Defense has already implemented policies to reduce sexual and sexist material from the military workplace in an effort to reduce sexual harassment, the effects of such recent efforts have yet to be measured. The Department of Defense also has a plan to standardize sexual assault response and prevention training across the Services to promote best practices. There will be a need to track the success of such policies over time. Greater commander accountability for leadership failures to implement such policies, especially in cases where victims claim sexual assault at the hands of superiors within the chain of command, should also be considered. Without increased data collection, however, it is difficult to measure the effects of any new changes the military chooses to implement.
Mar 30 2014
1497490405 / 9781497490406
US Trade Paper
8.5″ x 11″
Political Science / Political Freedom & Security / Civil Rights