US military sexual assault reports reach record high
WASHINGTON: The US military received a record number of sexual assault reports last year, the Pentagon said on Monday, calling it a sign of service members' trust in the system.
Sexual assault and harassment in the military has come under scrutiny after a scandal involving Marines sharing nude photos of women online came to light. It has opened an inquiry and senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill have denounced the violations.
Service members reported 6,172 cases of sexual assault last year, an annual military report showed. This is a sharp jump from 2012 when 3,604 cases were reported.
"We see the increase in rates of reporting as an indicator of a continued trust in our response and support systems," said Dr Elizabeth Van Winkle, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defence for readiness, at a press conference.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, in a statement, questioned if there was actual progress.
"The truth is that the scourge of sexual assault in the military remains status quo," she said. "Today's report disappointedly shows a flat overall reporting rate and a retaliation rate against survivors that remains at an unacceptable six out of 10 for a third year in a row."
Within the report was a survey, which found that 14,900 service members experienced some kind of sexual assault last year, down from 20,300 in 2014.
"The fight to end sexual assault, sexual harassment and related misconduct in the military is far from over," said Dr Van Winkle. - REUTERS