Sexual Assault ‘Epidemic’ in Military Says Sen. Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand during a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is taking the military to task after an annual review showed the number of sexual assaults in the military increased.

“We have a huge problem within the military,” she said.

There were 3,374 reported cases of sexual assault in 2012, that’s a 6 percent increase from 2011. Meanwhile, a confidential survey conducted by the military estimates that 26,000 members of the armed forces said they were sexually assaulted in 2012, up form 19,000 in 2010.

Pointing to the survey numbers, Senator Gillibrand said it shows that members of the armed forces don’t feel comfortable reporting the assaults.

“Victims aren’t coming forward because they’re afraid they’re going to be penalized, they’re going to be retaliated against, they’re going to be ostracized,” she told WNYC’s Amy Eddings.

Gillibrand, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, plans to introduce a number of reforms to reduce the number of sexual assaults in the military, including taking complaints out of the military chain-of-command, instead having victims report directly to prosecutors in the JAG core.

Listen to Amy Eddings’ full interview with Senator Gillibrand above.