Murkowski Co-Sponsors Crackdown Against Sexual Abuse in Military
Senator Continues to Push Reforms, Protections to Promote “Cultural Change”
WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Lisa Murkowski today joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R- NH) in co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to expand and improve sexual assault prevention and response resources within the Department of Defense.
The Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013 would expand current effective policies used by some military branches to the entire Department of Defense (DOD) to care for and protect victims – and serves as an important legislative complement to the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Act of 2013 , which Senator Murkowski introduced earlier this year with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
“While I am encouraged that the Secretary of Defense has admitted the Pentagon needs a cultural change, it is critical that Congress do all it can to promote the protection of those who protect our freedoms,” said Murkowski. “There are proven policies that can prevent military sexual assaults before they happen and ensure victims are provided with the help they need if they occur – so this bill will allow best practices to be shared and encouraged with all branches of the DOD.”
(Reported Sexual Assaults on the Rise - Click on Image for Full View)
The legislation would:
- Provide victims of sexual assault with Special Victims’ Counsel – a military lawyer who will assist sexual assault victims throughout the process. The Army already provides this Counsel, and the SVC would be an effective and essential ally for all victims.
- Enhance the responsibilities and authority of DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office so that it can better oversee efforts to combat MSA across the armed forces and regularly track and report on a range of MSA statistics, including assault rate, number of cases brought to trial, and compliance with appropriate laws and regulations within each of the individual services.
- Refer sexual assault cases to the general court-martial level when sexual assault charges are filed or to the next superior competent authority when there is a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.
Sexual assault within the military has continued to occur at frightening levels – with a six percent increase reported in the last year – and too often cases of sexual assault go unreported out of fear of retribution or that nothing will be done. According to the Department of Defense, an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual assault occurred in 2012, with only 3,374 cases being reported. The results mean thousands of military sexual assault victims are left to face the aftermath of their assault alone, while their attackers may never face justice. The Combating Military Sexual Assault Act works to increase the confidence of sexual assault victims in the military by expanding policies proven to work within the armed services.