Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: New Sex Assault Statistics Affirm Need for Action
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released the following statement in response to new sexual assault reporting statistics for Fiscal Year 2013. Last year, a Defense Department survey of servicemembers revealed there were approximately 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact or assault in the military, while only 3,374 were reported. For FY13, those reports were up 50 percent to 5,061.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “Survivors of sexual assault deserve a fair, safe, and transparent process to seek justice for these violent crimes. Thousands of servicemembers who are sexually assaulted each year do not report this crime, and for those who do, the chance of getting justice has proven to be slim. It is important to recognize that the increased reporting may be an indication that survivors are more comfortable coming forward, but it will be quite some time before we can know for certain whether or not the total number of sexual assaults increased and whether more of these cases will actually be prosecuted. By taking the decision to prosecute a sexual assault crime out of the chain of command, and putting it into the hands of trained military prosecutors, we can create a system that is more accountable to the servicemembers who sacrifice so much for our nation.”
Last year, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Dan Benishek (R-MI) introduced the Military Justice Improvement Act (H.R. 2016) in the House, which is a companion bill to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s legislation in the Senate. Their bill received wide bipartisan support in the House, including Democratic and Republican leadership.