Pentagon Statistics Show Rapes and Sexual Assaults Continue Unabated

March 21st, 2011 - by admin

Service Women’s Action Network & The Pentagon – 2011-03-21 16:01:47


Statistics show rapes and sexual assaults continue unabated, military’s efforts are proving ineffective.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO)published the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. The 622-page report details sexual assaults from each branch of the service for fiscal year 2010. The numbers indicate that cases of rape and sexual assault have not decreased, and that the military is no closer to ending this crisis in the ranks.

In FY2010, there were 3,158 total reports of sexual assault in the military. The DOD estimates that this number only represents 13.5% of total assaults in 2010, making the total number of military rapes and sexual assaults in excess of 19,000 for FY 2010.

“This latest report clearly shows that the military’s response to rape and sexual assault within its own ranks has been both inadequate and ineffective,” said Anu Bhagwati, former Marine Corps captain and executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network. “This crime continues to see massive amounts of underreporting because victims do not feel the climate is safe to report, and perpetrators are not being brought to trial in sufficient numbers.”

The SAPRO Annual Report shows that of the 3,158 reports made in FY2010, only 529 went to trial.

“For decades the DOD has not demonstrated the leadership needed to bring their own troops in line with their stated goals and policies on sexual assault and sexual harassment,” said Bhagwati. “Immediate legislative action by our elected officials is the best tool we have to stop this crisis right now. The military’s continuing efforts are just reinforcing failure.”

Along with the Annual Report, the DOD also released its 2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members, which surveys service members every two years about sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace. This report indicates that the military’s climate of fear and intimidation around sexual assault reporting still exists. The survey reveals that 67% of women are “uncomfortable” with reporting, 54% “fear reprisal”, and 46% of both men and women in the military believe that sexual assault was “not important enough” to report at all.

SWAN is a national human rights organization founded and led by women veterans. SWAN’s vision is to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and the freedom to serve in uniform without threat of harassment, discrimination, intimidation or assault. SWAN also seeks to reform veterans’ services on a national scale to guarantee equal access to quality health care, benefits and resources for women veterans and their families. You can follow Service Women’s Action Network on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

SWAN is a 501(c)3 organization that urgently needs your financial support to ensure equality, fairness, and justice for women in the military and dramatically improve resources for women veterans.

Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the U.S. Military Service Academies: Academic Program Year 2009-2010
Report to the Congressional Defense Committees of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives

The annual reports on sexual harassment and violence at the three U.S. Military Service Academies provide data on reported sexual assaults involving cadets and/or midshipmen, as well as policies, procedures and processes implemented in response to sexual harassment and violence during the Academic Program Year.

Section 532 of Public Law Number 109-364, the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 requires an assessment at the Military Service Academies(MSA) during each Academic Program Year (APY). This assessment is to determine the effectiveness of the policies, training, and procedures of the Academy with respect to sexual harassment and violence involving Academy personnel.

In APYs beginning in odd-numbered years (e.g., APY 09-10), the annual assessment is comprised of an Academy self-assessment and an anonymous survey of cadets and midshipmen. This survey, the bi-annual Defense Manpower Data Center’s (DMDC) 2010 Service Academy Gender Relations (SAGR) Survey covers topics such as incidence of unwanted sexual contact and harassment, reporting and training, and characteristics of the unwanted sexual and gender-related behaviors.

The Department of Defense (DoD) consolidates and summarizes the reports from each Academy and the results from the 2010 SAGR Survey. This summary serves as the Department’s Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies covering APYJune1, 2009 through May31,2010. Appendix A is the aggregate sexual assault data and consolidated data matrices. TABs Athrough Cof this report are the self-assessments from the United States Military Academy (USMA), the United States Naval Academy (USNA), and the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), respectively. The 2010 SAGR Survey is available at x.p hp /research.

DoD policy defines the term “sexual harassment” as a form of sex discrimination that: involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person’s job, pay or career; or submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person; or such conduct interferes with an individual’s performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offense environment.

The term “sexual violence,” herein referred to as “sexual assault,” is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use of force, threats, intimidation, abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent.

The crime of sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy, and other unwanted sexual contact that is aggravated, abusive, or wrongful, or attempts to commit these acts. “Consent” means words or overt acts indicating a freely given agreement to the sexual conduct at issue by a competent person. An expression of lack of consent through words or conduct means there is no consent. Lack of verbal or physical resistance or submission resulting from the accused’s use of force, threat of force or placing another person in fear does not constitute consent.

The MSA self-assessments describe institutionalized and evolving training programs for prevention and response to sexual harassment and assault. For cadets and midshipmen, this training begins at accession and continues throughout their four years at the Academy. Each MSA’s effort to improve its policies and training demonstrates a commitment to prevention and support for a climate where victims may confidently report the crime and receive needed assistance.

The programs addressing sexual harassment and assault at the MSAs are unique compared to civilian colleges and universities in that a great deal of prevention and response training has been written into academic curricula and leadership education. In addition, the MSAs employ leaders in the field of sexual violence prevention to guide their programming and educate cadets and midshipmen.

This year, there were a total of 41 reports of sexual assault, comprised of 19 Unrestricted Reports1 and 22 Restricted Reports 2. Initially, the MSAs received a total of 27 Restricted Reports, but five converted to Unrestricted Reports at the victims’ request.

The 41 reports represent a 64% increase from APY 08-09. In prior years’ assessments, the Department recommended that the Academies take steps to bring more victims forward to report. The increased reporting of sexual assault is a strategic priority for the entire Department.

DMDC conducted the strictly voluntary 2010 SAGR Survey in Spring 2010. Response rates to this year’s survey ranged from 77% to 88%, an increase from previous years. According to the survey, more than 89% of cadets and midshipmen understood key training concepts on how to make a sexual harassment or assault report.

Overall, in the twelve months prior to the survey, 12.9% of women and 1.9% of men indicated experiencing unwanted sexual contact, and 56% of women and 12% of men indicated experiencing sexual harassment. These survey results suggest that the 41 reports of sexual assault at the MSAs accounted for fewer than 10% of the incidents of unwanted sexual contact that may have actually occurred.

While it is unrealistic to expect that the number of reports of sexual assault will ever equal what is reported on anonymous surveys, the Department’s goals are to use prevention tools to reduce the number of incidents of sexual assault, and at the same time, encourage reporting of the crime, so that the Restricted and Unrestricted Reports to DoD account for a greater proportion of the survey-estimated incidents.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) and the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity (ODMEO) use this annual assessment as an oversight tool to monitor improvement of the Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) and Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) programs. To that end, the assessment of SAPR and POSH will be organized by the priorities established in the DoD-wide SAPR Strategic Plan approved in December 2009.

These priorities are:
1. Institutionalize Prevention Strategies in Military Community
2. Increase Climate of Victim Confidence Associated with Reporting
3. Improve Sexual Assault Response
4. Improve System Accountability
5. Improve Knowledge and Understanding of SAPR