Lawmakers address military sexual assault

Updated: Mar. 24, 2021 at 12:04 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - There’s a call for reforms as U.S. lawmakers address the reality of sexual assault in the military.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand hosted a hearing on the subject in the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee Wednesday afternoon.

It comes nearly a year after Specialist Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance and death sparked a reckoning at Fort Hood, bringing to light what Gillibrand calls years of neglect concerning sexual assault and abuse at that installation.

According to a news release from Gillibrand’s office, military-wide, 1 in 16 women in the military reported being raped, groped, or sexually assaulted in 2018.

That same year saw a nearly 40 percent increase in “unwanted sexual contact” over 2016 and nearly two-thirds of women in the military report some type of retaliation for coming forward, according to the Department of Defense.

One sexual assault survivor spoke at Wednesday’s hearing.

“It pains me to say this, but at many points in this process I felt it would have been much better if I hadn’t reported anything at all. If the status quo remains unchanged, bad actors will be able to continue their military careers while victims suffer in silence. And I don’t feel any justice or fairness in the system that has failed me and I did everything right,” said Amy Marsh.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has also been ramping up efforts to curb sexual assault in all branches of the military.

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