On January 19, 2012 Leon Panetta addressed the rising sexual violence within the Army, which has continued its upward swing since 2006. Since 2006, sexual assaults have increased by an uncomprehensible 64%. Incidents of rape, forcible sodomy and sexual assault were the most reported incidents within 2011. These figures are frightening to say the least.
Women, who account for around 14% of the U.S. Army, are the victims 95% of the time. This lopsided representation is not healthy for recruitment or the overall emotional state of service women, who seem to be in somewhat unsafe conditions. Further, this high figure of sexual assault leaves an ugly perception of the U.S. Army and sadly speaks of American culture and its still dominant, and often ugly, male view.
In 2011, just about 4,000 reports were filed. However, Panetta believes the number to be closer to 20,000. These figures are distorted because of the tendency to not report due to shame and possible retribution by the offender. At approximately 20,000 reports, that is about 4% of all service members being sexually assaulted.
Panetta has planned for further training of lawyers prosecuting sex crimes, an emphasis on training for counselors within the U.S. Army, possible reconfiguration of barracks (to diversify them and break up young soldiers, because they are the majority of victimes and offenders) as well as forming an independing body outside of the military to investigate cases.
This development is repugnant. We owe a safer environment to individuals who put their lives on the line to promote our freedom and ensure our safety. The least we can do, is the same for them.