Entries in Military Rape (3)


Army Leaders: Sequestration Could Hurt Fight Against Sexual Assault

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The secretary of the Army and the Army chief of staff have told senators that sequestration could hurt efforts to deal with sexual assaults within their branch of the military.

In a written statement submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 23, Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said the across-the-board budget cuts mandated as part of the sequester could hurt their Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program “from slowing hiring actions, to delaying lab results which hinders our ability to provide resolution for victims.”

A Defense Department study released Tuesday showed there were 3,374 reports of sexual assault made in 2012, and DOD estimated a total of 26,000 instances of unwanted sexual contact occurred.
The Army has had the highest rate of victims reporting sexual assault compared to active duty military service among the five branches, at least since 2007.

In their oral testimony in April, the Army leaders stressed the importance of working with soldiers from their first days in the service through the rest of their military careers to ensure they see sexual harassment and assault as serious problems.

“It is just about constantly talking about this problem and constantly ensuring that people understand we are going to take this seriously. And it’s as frustrating to all of us, I know, as it is to you, senator,” Gen. Odierno told Senator Kay Hagan. “I wish I had a better answer for you frankly.”

The statement from April said the Army planned to add 829 full-time military and civilian sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates to combat the problem within the branch.

Wednesday the Army Secretary told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Army faces $7.6 billion in sequestration cuts between April and September. Gen. Odierno said that in part has left them with a $13-billion budget shortfall and requested Congress delay the cuts for the Army for “later years.”

“We are sacrificing readiness to achieve reductions inside the short period of the fiscal year. And unfortunately, readiness can’t ever be bought back, because there’s a time component of readiness,” he said. “It’s just not the size of the cuts but it’s the steepness of the cuts required by sequestration, especially close in, which make it impossible to downsize the force in a deliberate, logical manner that allow us to sustain the appropriate balance between readiness, modernization and end strength.”

Army Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt told ABC News Thursday that despite sequestration, “the Army will continue provide care, support and treatment for” victims of sexual assault.

Lawmakers met with members of the Obama administration at the White House Thursday afternoon to discuss how to combat sexual assault in the military going forward.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Congresswoman Takes on Sexual Assault in Military

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- In light of the recent increase in reported sexual assaults in the military, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.,  is pointing the finger at who she says is to blame – and it isn’t just the Armed Forces.

Speier, the author of three recent bills intended to reform the military’s handling of rape and sexual assault, took members of the legislature to task for their role in what she called “a broken system.”

“Congress is as culpable as the military in not addressing it, because we’ve known about this issue for 25 years,” Speier said on the House floor Tuesday. “We are big on holding hearings and beating our chests and saying, ‘This has got to stop.’ And the big brass comes up to the Hill, and they say all the right words. They say, ‘We have a zero tolerance.’ And then our chief prevention officer is charged with sexual assault.”

Speier was referring to the arrest over the weekend of Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, who has been charged with sexual assault, accused of drunkenly grabbing a woman’s “breast and buttocks” in a parking lot.
Standing next to a blown-up photo of Krusinski, she told members of Congress that that wasn’t the worst of it.

“For all the money we’ve been throwing at this issue, for all the prevention and all the rehabilitation and all of the training, the numbers keep going up,” Speier said.

“And now, this most recent report also suggests that one-third of the women serving in the military reported that they were sexually harassed last year.”

The report she referred to, released Tuesday, said there were 3,374 reports of sexual assaults involving service members as either victims or subjects in the past year.

“This is an institution of military good discipline, good order?” Speier asked.

President Obama and other members of Congress reacted strongly to the report as well.

In April Speier introduced the STOP Act, a bill that would put responsibility for handling everything from reporting to prosecution and victim care in the case of sexual assault on the shoulders of the Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office, taking it out of the regular chain of command.

Delilah Rumburg, who co-chaired a task force made up of civilian and military leaders charged with writing a report on sexual harassment and violence at the Military Service Academies in 2005, said Congress should ensure the fight against sexual assault starts with prevention.

“I think there still is some work to be done there, obviously, and I think it has to begin in the beginning,” Rumburg told ABC News Wednesday. “We need to step back again and really do that big-picture assessment and really determine what is working in prevention and what isn’t working.”

A large part of the problem, Rumburg said, was in what recruits learn about healthy sexuality and relationships even before they enter the Armed Forces.

“I think certainly that every time a rape or a sexual assault happens…it draws everybody’s attention to it, but I mean we really have to look at our own culture throughout this nation,” she said, “about what is it that these kinds of assaults still happen.”

Almost one in five women in the United States has been raped at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“What Congress needs to do is put more money in the ground up in their local communities to help us build on what we know about the prevention of sexual violence,” Rumburg urged. “It’s not just a military problem.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Colin Powell Calls On Congress to Support Abortion Coverage for Military Rape Victims

ABC/Donna Svennevik(WASHINGTON) -- In a letter sent to key lawmakers on Capitol Hill former U.S. Secretary of State and retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell called on Congress to support abortion coverage for military rape victims.

“Restoring abortion coverage to our servicewomen and military family members who are survivors of rape and incest would bring the Department of Defense in line with the policy that governs other federal programs, such as Medicaid or the Federal Employee Health Benefit program,” Powell, along with dozens of military leaders wrote. “At the very least, our military women deserve the same access to care as civilian women who rely on the federal government for their health care.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced the amendment which would allow the Department of Defense to cover the cost of abortions for servicewomen who are survivors of rape and incest.

Under current law, the Department of Defense is allowed to only provide coverage for an abortion if the servicemember’s life is in danger. There is no exemption for abortion coverage in the case of rape or incest, unlike many other federal health programs.

“The current policy is unfair and must be changed,” Powell and the other signers say in the letter. “Our servicewomen commit their lives to defending our freedoms; Congress should respect their service and sacrifice and provide them with the same level of health care coverage it provides civilians.”

The amendment is included in the National Defense Authorization Act which passed unanimously in the Senate last week.

The legislation is currently being worked on in a conference between the House and the Senate. If the provision is included in the final defense authorization bill each chamber, the House and Senate, will be able to vote on it during final passage of the bill.

The letter was sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, who will be in charge of hammering out a final Defense Authorization Bill that can pass in both houses of Congress.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio