Senator Susan Collins Fights Sexual Assault in the MilitaryPosted: May 17, 2013
Last week the Pentagon released a new report on sexual assault in the military showing a dramatic increase (35 percent) in the number of sexual assaults over the past two years. Based on confidential polling of active-duty troops conducted first in 2006, then 2010 and most recently in 2012. This report showed the number of sexual assaults increased from 19,000 to 26,000. In contrast to these numbers, the annual number of actual reported assaults only rose 13 percent from 2010 to 2012, revealing that there is still a significant disparity between the number of assaults and victims willingness to report. This report has drawn outrage from Capitol Hill. On Thursday, May 16, President Obama met with the joint chiefs to discuss the report as well as a series of sexual assault scandals that have recently been reported.
Also on Thursday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced legislation that would overhaul the military justice system by taking the response to sexual assault charges out of the chain of command and to an independent judicial authority. Taking the responsibility for prosecution of felony-level cases away from the military chain of command would make it easier for victims to seek justice, and make it less likely that the victim would be reporting to their perpetrator. Mainstream Republican and RMC ally Senator Susan Collins of Maine has been an advocate of this issue for years, and this week has taken the lead pushing new legislation. In a press conference Thursday morning she had this to say, “This epidemic of sexual abuse cannot stand. We must take these allegations seriously and, most of all, we must ensure that justice is swift and certain for the criminals who have perpetrated these crimes.” We applaud Senator Collins for being an outspoken and reliable advocate for America’s servicewomen.