Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reports of sexual assaults in the military up 8% in FY 08

It's being widely reported that a new DOD report reveals that reports of sexual assaults were up 8% in FY 08 compared to FY 07. And reports of sexual assault were up 26% in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here's a link to the Army Times' report on the report. The DOD report and the individual services' reports are available here.


Anonymous said...

I saw the NBC Nightly News piece on this last night, which included an interview with a former soldier who said she was raped but was encouraged by her chain of command not to report it.

I don't know anything about her case, but, in general, from having been in command I find that extremely hard to believe. Any allegation that is made immediately received the most serious attention from all levels of the chain of command, and there were countless training hours devoted to this.

Additionally, the SAPRO program has a uniformed victim advocate at the unit level that servicemembers can go to.

If I had to guess a reason for the spike in reporting, I would be inclined to say it is from the new SAPRO order and hypervigilance leading to "better" reporting of allegations. At least post-SAPRO I just cannot believe that this is treated casually, and in fact suspect it is not.

Now, as any trial veterans know, the "low" conviction rate for rape has nothing to do with military culture, and everything to do with the facts of the typical case.

Further, if the percentage of convictions is based on the number of preferred charges against final convictions, that skews the stats, because many cases are taken to Article 32 hearings and are deemed not worthy of a court-martial. When a case dies at an Article 32the victim still had their day in court, the accused's rights were respected, yet it still gets reported against the conviction rate and is somehow evidence of military tolerance of rape. Which is just not true.

From my experience, I would guess that the conviction rate at contested rape cases is about 50%.

It is just frustrating that this will be spun to the public as the military being soft on sexual assault, when the SAPRO program and the military justice process are incredibily more respectful of alleged victims than anything in the civilian world.

Anonymous said...

I have read a few of the articles but have not seen any mention of cases where the victim reports but only wants counselling/medical treatment and does not want to press for criminal charges. Reluctant victims are encouraged t report to avail themselves to treatment but have the option of not pressing for a criminal case. However, these cases are reported in the overall number of sexual assaults.

Anonymous said...

I'm all in favor of being vigilant on sexual assault and sexual harassment issues, but this really has become a self-perpetuating cottage industry. If the numbers are down, it's because we're not doing enough to encourage victims to come forward. If the numbers are up, it's because we're not doing enough to prevent people from being victimized. It's really a no-win situation for DoD, but maybe we did it to ourselves with a few well publicized instances of juvenile behavior.