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Pentagon figures show increase in reports of military sexual assault

(Washington, DC) –  In response to new Pentagon figures demonstrating a 50 percent increase in reports of sexual assaults by members of the military, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is stressing the need for Congress to reform the military justice system, starting by passing the Military Justice Improvement Act. The bipartisan legislation would change the way the military prosecutes incidents of sexual assault by removing the decision from the chain of command. The new Pentagon report expected to be released later today indicates more victims of military sexually assault are coming forward to report what has long been a hugely underreported crime.

“We have to fight and protect our men and women in uniform in the same way they do for us,” Shaheen said. “That more survivors of military sexual assault are reporting these heinous crimes is an important first step toward addressing and eliminating sexual assault within our military. But it’s not enough, and we have to show the survivors who come forward that they will be heard and treated fairly, and implement a strong, zero tolerance sexual assault policy.  Our bipartisan legislation will help us reach that goal.” 

Shaheen has repeatedly called to reform the way the military addresses sexual assaults and has met with New Hampshire military officials, law enforcement and domestic and sexual violence experts to discuss ways to address the growing epidemic. She is an original co-sponsor of the Military Justice Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that would reform the way sexual assaults are prosecuted by removing the decision to prosecute these cases from the military chain of command. The FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act also included provisions championed by Shaheen to reform military sexual assault investigations and prosecutions.