You probably know the U.S. Military is plagued by an epidemic of sexual assault: there were an estimated 26,000 cases of rape, sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact in 2012. But did you know you could do something about it? Today?
Today, join Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) for a lunch-time twitter storm in support of a bill that would empower survivors of rape and sexual assault and decrease the rampant immunity enjoyed by those who commit these heinous crimes. The Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) would move the decision to prosecute sexual assault and rape out of the chain of command. Why does this matter? In the current system, a victim of rape or sexual assault has to report the crime to his or her superior, which means the superior will know the victim. Given that 25% of women and 27% of men who received unwanted sexual contact said the offender was someone in their military chain of command, it is likely that their superior will know the criminal or, even worse, be the criminal. So survivors are understandably reluctant to report these crimes. Under-reporting is rampant:
- The Defense Department itself estimates that while there were 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact, only 3,374 cases were reported!
And with good reason:
- 62% of those who did report a crime experienced some form of professional, social, and/or administrative retaliation.
Of the 67% of women who experienced unwanted sexual contact but did not report,
- 47% said fear of retaliation or reprisal prevented them from reporting.
- 43% heard about negative experiences from other victims who had reported.
- 50% thought nothing would be done.
Under the MJIA, the cases would be handled by independent, trained, professional military prosecutors. The bill is so logical, that it has the support of not only Senator Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY], who spearheaded it, and several other Democrats, but Republicans like Rand Paul [R-KY] and Ted Cruz [R-TX].
So, help get this bill passed! Join the twitter storm!
Between 1 and 2 today, tweet at the senators who are not yet in support of the MJIA.
Find out who isn’t in support and their contact info here.
Check out the sample tweets here.
Come back here for updates on what to do next.
Katie Halper started identifying as a feminist at the age of 5 when she attended her first pro-choice rally and began calling out the musicals she watched instead of cartoons for being “prejudiced against women.” She realizes this is a ridiculous photo.