Sign if you agree: Justice for rape survivors in the military

CREDO action
The military's sexual assault epidemic

Tell the Senate:
"Stand up for victims of sexual assault in the military and pass the Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act."

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Dear 5849376,

Prevent rape in the military

There were more than 20,000 cases of sexual assault, rape, and unwanted sexual contact in the military in 2015.1 It's an epidemic of sexual assault that is made even worse because the assaults are under-reported and under-prosecuted, with victims often facing devastating retaliation.

The Pentagon has repeatedly claimed that it can handle this problem – and repeatedly tried to thwart or water-down Congress' efforts to intervene. It's clear that the military is failing to protect victims of sexual assault and punish perpetrators. Of the incidents in 2015, around 6,000 were reported and 543 proceeded to trial.2 And according to the Pentagon, somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of women who report being sexually assaulted experience retaliation.3

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) would remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command, freeing victims to speak out without fear of retribution or punishment and putting trained and unbiased military prosecutors in charge of deciding which sexual assault crimes to try.4 Pro-Pentagon senators successfully killed the bill in 2015, but its needed reforms will be on the table as soon as next week when the Senate takes up this year's National Defense Authorization Act.

Tell the Senate to ensure justice for victims of sexual assault in the military. Click here to sign the petition.

Survivors of military sexual assault consistently say that the number one barrier to reporting assaults is a lack of trust in the chain of command. A recent investigation by the Associated Press suggests that the Pentagon may have intentionally tried to undermine the MJIA by reporting misleading data to lawmakers, providing yet another reason for survivors not to trust their leaders.5

Current rules give commanding officers the final say over prosecution of service-members under their command. The rule suppresses reporting when victims fear retaliation or don't trust that their cases will be handled fairly. It also encourages ill-trained commanders to avoid prosecuting people under their command — protecting careers instead of survivors. And when military hearings do occur, victims are often subject to a degrading and antagonistic process.

Sen. Gillibrand has worked tirelessly to advance this bill in the face of pressure from the Pentagon and high-ranking members of her own party. In 2015, she organized 50 senators, including 10 Republicans, to vote to protect victims of sexual assault in the military, but it wasn't enough to overcome a pro-Pentagon filibuster. We need to do everything we can to make sure more senators do the right thing this time around.

Tell your senators to vote yes on Sen. Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Click the link below to sign the petition.

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/MJIA_2016?t=6&akid=18323.3291973.LuFtEx

Thank you for standing up for survivors of sexual assault in the military,

Heidi Hess, Senior Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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References:

  1. Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Fiscal Year 2015
  2. Rebecca Kheel, "Pentagon: Sexual assault reports level in 2015," The Hill, May 5, 2015.
  3. Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, Fiscal Year 2015
  4. Text of the Military Justice Improvement Act
  5. Richard Lardner, "Pentagon misled lawmakers on military sexual assault cases," Asscoated Press, April 18, 2016.

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