The number of sexual assaults at the nation’s three military academies went up by 23% this year. This is according to the latest information from the Pentagon. The number of assaults also rose from 65 to 80 in the last year. The data gathered by the Pentagon, though, found that there is still reluctance by victims to seek investigation, and half of the assaults involved victims who wanted confidential medical or other care.
Former Marine Captain Anu Bhagwati, the Executive Director of Service Women’s Action Network, stated “The high prevalence of sexual violence at the Service Academies correlates to the limited avenues for redress available to cadets and midshipmen who are victims of sexual harassment of assault. In a civilian college setting, victims of sexual violence are protected from discrimination by Title IX. That means that if civilian colleges fail to respond appropriately to student complaints, students can hold their universities liable. Not so for Academy students. There is no true deterrent to sexual violence at the Academies.”
The Department of Defense presented their report to Congress this morning. They also reported that, over the last academic year for 2011 – 2012, that 12.4% of women and 2.0% of men were victims of unwanted sexual contact, and 51% of women and 10% of men were victims of sexual harassment.
Bhagwati stated “More than half of women surveyed at the Academies experienced sexual harassment, which is not surprising. Thanks in large part to the Combat Exclusion Policy, women are grossly underrepresented at the Service Academies, making up less than 23% of enrolled students at each school. This contributes to a culture in which discrimination against women can flourish. Transforming the culture which disrespects women at the Academies is a vital step to instilling moral leadership among our future officers.”