From a Reuters news report on Friday, May 24: “A study released by the Defense Department two weeks ago estimated that reports of unwanted sexual contact in the military, from groping to rape, rose 37 percent in 2012, to about 26,000 from 19,000 the previous year.”
The numbers are staggering—and those are just REPORTED cases of unwanted sexual contact. According to Wikipedia there were more than 1,429,000 active-duty military in 2010, and 850,000 in the reserves. Women in the military are more likely to be sexually assaulted than killed in combat.
A recent NPR story had even more disturbing news: “…according to the latest Pentagon statistics, only 1,108 troops filed for an investigation during the most recent yearly reporting period. In that same period, 575 cases were processed–and of those, just 96 went to court-martial.” Military personnel interviewed indicated reporting a sexual assault and taking it to court martial meant the end of the victim’s military career.
Because I didn’t want to compare statistics from different years, I went to the Department of Defense website for an up-to-date answer of military strength. Clicking on the “Total Numerical Strength”link got me the page shown below:
Other government websites linked back to this same page, leaving me without accurate numbers to compare. So, while I can’t compare recent sexual assaults to current military strength, but I’ll try to estimate the impact of existing statistics by putting them into a perspective we can relate to.
If a city of approximately 1.4 million persons—say Phoenix or San Antonio—had 26,000 incidences of “unwanted sexual contact” reported to its police agencies, the citizenry would be in revolt, and rightly so. That’s about 18 sexual assaults for every 1,000 citizens, or 1,800 per 100,000 citizens. Has any American city ever had a rate of sexual assaults that high? (Dallas reported 35 per 100,000 in 2011.) Has any city in the WORLD ever had one that high, except during times of insurgency?
So why isn’t this being taken more seriously by the military? Why are an estimated three rapes per hour tolerated by the military? Why isn’t the media all over this? Why are victims still being blamed? And why aren’t American citizens, especially those consumed with social morality and family values, raising a ruckus about this? I’d like to hear your thoughts.