Last year, the U.S. Armed Forces received a total of 3,158 reports of sexual assault involving Service members - a 2% decrease in overall reporting from 2009, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
The report entitled, “Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military” includes a broad spectrum of offenses ranging from rape to wrongful sexual contact, which are addressed by Articles 120,125, and 80 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Incidents involved assaults on people in uniform by fellow military members and by civilians, according to the DoD’s report.
The research shows 4.4% of women on active duty and fewer than 1% of men reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact in the period up to last September. Government officials say the trend since the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program was launched in 2005 is that more victims are coming forward to report the assaults.
“To further build the climate of victim confidence and encourage reporting, the Department also continued to publicize its reporting options through a variety of innovative media channels, engaged leadership to reduce the stigma associated with reporting, and developed initiatives to encourage help-seeking behaviors,” the DoD report states.
Still, the Defense Department admits there is still work to do to integrate and continue efforts to combat sexual assault across the department and the services. “The department’s position on sexual assault is clear: one sexual assault is one too many. Sexual assault has absolutely no place in today’s armed forces. We are firmly committed to doing our best to ensure that those who have stepped forward to protect our country are themselves protected within the ranks,” said Clifford L. Stanley, under secretary of defense (personnel and readiness).
Currently, DoD says it is reviewing and analyzing the SAPR Office organizational structure and programs to develop a more comprehensive approach to prevent and handle sexual assaults in an integrated and uniform manner across the services.