Photo: Protect Our Defenders
Today a group of veterans delivered letters signed by 200 military sexual assault and rape survivors to Congress urging them to pass the STOP Act. The letters were presented to Congresswoman Spier who introduced the Act to congress in November of 2011. If passed, the STOP Act would remove the reporting of sexual assault and rape in the military outside of the chain of command and into the jurisdiction of the military’s Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office which is comprised of military and civilian experts.
Despite 17 congressional hearings over the past 25 years, there’s been no major action taken to stem the “silent epidemic” of sexual assault in the military. It’s been estimated that nearly 20,000 servicemembers were assaulted in 2010 though only a little more than 13 per cent of the incidents were reported.
The group of women delivered the letters with the human rights organisation, Protect Our Defenders, which provides support for men and women who have served in the military and been victims of sexual assault. A number of the women who went to Congress today were featured in the documentary, “The Invisible War,” a film which gives voice to the staggering number of horrific sexual assaults that have gone unpunished.
The letter was from:
“200 Veterans who have been raped or sexually assaulted at least once while serving in the United States Armed Forces between 1971 – 2011. Retaliation, including discharge and punishment, happened to many of us who tried reporting the crime.”
Many victims say that the way they were treated by the military after the incident and the military’s failure to prosecute the assault is worse than the actual incident.
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