US Military Records Staggering Increase in Reports of Sexual Assaults

The number of reported sexual assaults across the military ranks increased by roughly 13% in 2021 compared with the previous year, the highest recorded level the US military experienced, a survey in a Pentagon report published on Thursday shows.

The gloomy data the Pentagon described as tragic, disappointing, and devastating comes just months after President Biden signed an executive order to make sexual harassment an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and it announced new reforms that critics branded too slow and too limited to resolve the crisis.

While the US military is struggling to meet recruiting goals after decades of war, a staggering 8.4% of active-duty women have reported some form of unwanted sexual contact in 2021, while the figure among men roughly doubled to 1.5%.

According to the survey, the sexual assaults prevalence rate among women in the Marine Corps rose to 13.4 percent in 2021 from about 10.7%.

A senior Pentagon official said it was the highest rate for women since 2006 and the second-highest level for men although due to government-directed change in metrics, the study results could not be scientifically compared to previous years.

Elizabeth Foster, executive director of the Pentagon’s Office of Force Resiliency, stressed that it is devastating to conceptualize, on an individual level, that these numbers mean that these crimes have irrevocably changed over 35,000 service members’ lives and careers.

Foster stressed that every incident of this type causes ripple effects across the unit, impacting unit cohesion and ability to trust and distracting from the critical mission at hand.

Her words are mirroring the study results which showed that only 34% of women in the military that have reported an incident trusted the military to protect their privacy after the incident – down from 63% percent in 2018 – while six out of 10 women did not trust the military to ensure their safety after an incident.

The data showed that only 39% of women in the military trusted the system to treat them with dignity and respect after an incident, down from 66% in 2018.

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