Sexual Assault in the Military

August 9, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 29
Can the Pentagon stem the rise in incidents?
By Jennifer Koons


Anu Bhagwati (Getty Images/Win McNamee)
Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine captain and executive director of the Service Women's Action Network, testifies before a Senate hearing on sexual assault in the military on March 13, 2013. The issue has prompted members of Congress to propose legislation to address how the military deals with such cases. (Getty Images/Win McNamee)

The Pentagon says about 3,000 service members reported being sexually assaulted in 2012, but a confidential Department of Defense survey suggests the figure is closer to 26,000 — up 35 percent over 2010. The revelations come amid several high-profile incidents of sexual assault at the military's prestigious service academies and in the field, sometimes perpetrated by the very officials charged with preventing such crimes. The Pentagon is under intense pressure to address the problem. Some in Congress want to remove the victim's commander from decision-making in sexual assault cases, but critics say that could negatively affect unit cohesion and combat readiness. Meanwhile, victims' advocates say as long as women are a minority in the armed forces, they will face dangers inherent in that status.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 27, 2022  Crime in America
Feb. 10, 2017  Forensic Science Controversies
Feb. 05, 2016  Restorative Justice
Jan. 30, 2015  Central American Gangs
Aug. 29, 2014  Transnational Crime
Aug. 09, 2013  Sexual Assault in the Military
Oct. 26, 2012  Mexico's Future
Apr. 20, 2012  Criminal Records and Employment
Apr. 19, 2011  Honor Killings
Sep. 2010  Crime in Latin America
Jul. 16, 2010  Gangs in the U.S.
Jul. 17, 2009  Examining Forensics
Apr. 17, 2009  Wrongful Convictions Updated
Feb. 08, 2008  Fighting Crime
Oct. 11, 2002  Corporate Crime
Apr. 04, 1997  Declining Crime Rates
Dec. 10, 1982  Arson: America's Most Costly Crime
May 07, 1982  Helping Victims of Crime
Mar. 13, 1981  Violent Crime's Return to Prominence
Jul. 15, 1977  Crime Reduction: Reality or Illusion
Jan. 19, 1972  Crime of Rape
Jan. 22, 1969  Street Crime in America
Jan. 17, 1968  Burglary Prevention
Sep. 22, 1965  Compensation for Victims of Crime
Feb. 17, 1965  Criminal Justice and Crime Control
Oct. 18, 1961  Control of City Crime
Jun. 20, 1929  Crime and the Courts
Crime and Law Enforcement
Military Law and Justice
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Women in the Military