Reported Rapes in the Military on the Rise, Prosecutions Still Low

Check out community poster ArmyVetJen’s take (who beat us to the punch) on the new statistics just released by the Pentagon showing that there has been a 9% increase in the reports of sexual assault in the military over the past year. AP reports:

The Pentagon said it received 2,923 reports of sexual assault across the military in the 12 months ending Sept. 30 2008. That’s about a 9 percent increase over the totals reported the year before, but only a fraction of the crimes presumably being committed.
Among the cases reported, only a small number went to military courts, officials acknowledged.
The Pentagon office that collects the data estimates that only 10 percent to 20 percent of sexual assaults among members of the active duty military are reported — a figure similar to estimates of reported cases in the civilian sphere.
The military statistics, required by Congress, cover rape and other assaults across the approximately 1.4 million people in uniform.

The director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office says that the increase in reports is likely due to more women feeling confident enough to come forward rather than attributing it to an actual increase in sexual violence. While that would be great, as Cara says, there hasn’t been any reported increase in awareness around sexual assault by the Pentagon so I’m not inclined to immediately buy that contention. (Also considering prosecutions are still low as ever.)
Reports in Iraq and Afghanistan have rose by about a quarter. You can find the report here. Feministe also has more.

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18 Comments

  1. armybrat
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    In reference to that I just wanted to point out that the following T-Shirts are currently being sold on US Military Bases across Europe:
    http://img21.imageshack.us/my.php?image=rapeshirt.jpg
    http://img12.imageshack.us/my.php?image=rapeshirt2.jpg
    I work in one of the stores that sells them and have complained about it to my supervisors and managers but was laughed at and brushed off.

  2. CathyLBeck
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:27 am | Permalink
  3. FeministMan
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    The army is obviously not a safe place for a lot of people, especially people who identify as GLBT or queer and women. I know there is not always a direct correlation between sexism and heterosexism, but if the army isn’t progressive enough to handle a growing amount of sexual assault, why do we want Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed? I am a queer man and I can’t even imagine the amount of violence this institution has to offer, especially towards queer women, once everyone is allowed to be out and proud about their identities. I think this shows that the armed forces really aren’t ready to take on progressive policies when women don’t even feel comfortable reporting one-fifth of the sexual assault that occurs.

  4. Ilavenil
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I don’t have a comment, just a lot of questions.
    Those women have guns don’t they? What’s stopping them from blasting their offenders to pieces? Fear of repercussion?
    Why reduce crimes against women to numbers, and put a percentage to make it sound like an inflation report?
    DD/MM/YYYY – 6:00 AM – Johnson reported a chauvinistic comment – Person accused was just saying a joke
    8:00 AM – Davis reports rape, minor injuries on body – Person accused denies the charge
    9:00 AM – Peters found dead, autopsy showed signs of sexual assault, no suspects…
    Total today — 3 cases, 2 more than yesterday. None of them are ‘substantiated’- 50% increase in cases, 0% increase in convictions, let’s file this away with the report on the number of potatoes eaten yesterday.
    If the strongest women in society (who keep themselves fit, and are trained in using weapons) have to suffer sexual harassment,and it does not come out in the mainstream media except as annual statistics, where does it leave the rest of us?
    Oof, I suppose more reports are good, though!

  5. vtfem
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure what your point was in posting this link.
    I checked out this site, and I don’t think that this is the direction we want to go in. It’s not that women should be protected by not being allowed to join the military. Women should be protected by not allowing their male counterparts rape them! Women should not be afraid of having the people ON THEIR SIDE assult them!
    This website is just conservative backlash against equal rights.

  6. puckalish
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Read some of the links, there and it seems like the logic followed reasonably leads to an argument for not allowing women outside alone or to allow their skin to see the light of day.
    I mean, allowing women the agency to go outside of their homes without having a male family member accompanying them puts them “deliberately in harms way,” yeah? So, it’s this… er… feminist chauvinism… er… that’s, um, allowing women to put themselves in dangerous situations.
    Men shouldn’t be expected not to attack women, so women should have their lives circumscribed in such a way to reduce the opportunities for men to attack them, yeah?
    Now, of course, if women break these covenants and go out alone or wear revealing clothing, there needs to be some kind of consequence – a negative reinforcement for their own safety, of course – like stoning or public humiliation.
    Um… riiiiiiight… Oh, yeah, and it’s totally cool for men to go into combat because they are less valuable than potential “mothers” and because men… um… never get PTSD… um… riiiiight…

  7. ArmyVetJen
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    One answer:
    1. Those women have guns don’t they? What’s stopping them from blasting their offenders to pieces? Fear of repercussion?
    A. The men have guns too, when in combat. In general though most people in the military aren’t walking around with guns. Also the whole instiution is based on trusting one another to have your back, so it that climate leads to situations where trust can be abused, which only then compounds the survivors sense of betrayal. And, this question smacks of victim blaming, so be careful in phrasing it.

  8. ArmyVetJen
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting that. Can you email me, info@claimingjustice.org . I’d like to get more info on that.
    Thanks, Jen

  9. ArmyVetJen
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Nathaniel Frank’s book “Unfriendly Fire” makes some important connections between the ban on GLBT service members and the sexual assault that happnes inteh military. Its all about climate, and the ban creates one that encourages macho posturing which can have disatourous consequences. They are connected!

  10. puckalish
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    ArmyVetJen,
    Thanks for setting stuff straight (and what a light touch with the “be careful in phrasing it”)…
    Two things… first, I’d suggest putting a space on either side of the “@” in your email address in comments, to make it harder for spammers to get your address… and, second, can you say something about Claiming Justice… took a look at the site and it’s pretty darn cool, I think folks here would like to know more about it.

  11. The Boggart
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if PTSD plays a role in increased incidences of sexual assault in the army. I’ve read about how it can cause domestic assaults (sexual or otherwise) by returning soldiers suffering from it. Thoughts?

  12. Marc
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    There are many layers to be dis

  13. Ilavenil
    Posted March 21, 2009 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks for pointing out the vague phrasing in my comment. I did not mean that it was the women’s fault, just that women aren’t safe anywhere, armed or unarmed. I got really mad reading the post, and I guess my language reflects it.

  14. College Feminist
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    It is horrible that these horrendous facts are being used as propaganda to not allow females/homosexuals in the military. Instead of the “higher ups” (males) denying females and homosexuals admission because of these facts, why doesn’t the military take responsibility for the people which they allow in and put a stop to the sexual assaults. Our soldiers should not feel fear of being sexually assaulted while serving this country, especially by other Americans.

  15. College Feminist
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    It is horrible that these facts are propaganda to oppress females in the military. Instead of concluding and emphasizing that the rates are up because females are more confident to speak up in the military, why don’t they emphasize the main point… that sexual assaults are on the rise. The Pentagon needs to take responsibilty for these horrendous facts and do whatever it takes to reverse this trend, instead of trying to find a different way to interpret the facts. No soldier should be fearful of sexual assault while serving this country, especially sexual assault from another American soldier.

  16. sporty070882
    Posted April 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    As a female veteran that was sexually assaulted and raped by my team leader and other service members, I know all too well what it is like to be betrayed by those that are supposed to be your friends and allies. I chose to file restricted reports through military channels for numerous reasons which basically just makes you a statistic but at least it was known that it did happen and who did it in the event that other females come forward at a later time about the same individuals. I will also mention that I have worked as the only female in a male job for many years and I am well acquainted with the military mentalities and male chauvenism that accompanies these thoughts. As I have progressed in my dealing and healing, I have become more vocal in my thoughts and opinions regarding sexual assault in the military and I hope that eventually I can reach out to others even more. Anyone that is interested in some reading along these lines should read “Honor Betrayed – Sexual Assault in the Military.” It was like reading my own biography even when reading about the male on male assault. I have also come to the personal opinion that nothing will change until the mentalities of society toward women in general change. Envisioning a world without rape, and even the military, will be a long hard road but I believe it can be done if someone is willing to stand up to those that do wrong. It may not be in my lifetime but I hope I can contribute to that happening on some level.

  17. Jowens2084
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    What do you guys think the hierarchy and the way that women are viewed as not equal has on women reporting rape in the military?

  18. Jowens2084
    Posted April 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    What do you guys think the hierarchy and the way that women are viewed as not equal has on women reporting rape in the military?

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