Originally published on August 1, 2014, at ForceChange.com
Target: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Goal: Reform the military’s broken system of punishing sexual assault victims for reporting heinous crimes
Sexual assault victims within the military are speaking out against the abusive treatment they have received immediately after reporting their rape. Many of their attackers receive light sentences or honorable discharges without a criminal record of the offense. Victims also accuse superior officers of interfering with investigations in order to lower their sexual assault statistics.
The military’s chain of command has failed to implement congressional and statutory mandates designed to reduce sexual assault. After reporting the assault, many victims receive verbal abuse and further unwanted sexual advances. Their attackers are often convicted for adultery instead of rape.
By issuing lenient sentences against rapists, the chain of command appears to condone sexual assault within each and every branch of the military. Victimized servicemen and servicewomen are denied justice while receiving punishment for being attacked and reporting it. By covering up rampant sexual misconduct, the military is preventing itself from solving this issue on its own.
That is why we need our Senators to represent the victims within our Armed Forces. Recent court decisions have determined that military sexual assault victims cannot even bring a lawsuit against military officials for violating their constitutional rights. How can we claim to support our troops while allowing sexual abuse on our own bases?
By signing the petition below you will help urge the United States Senate to reform our military’s misconduct and end the mistreatment of sexual assault victims.
Dear U.S. Senate,
We can no longer sit in silence as our brave servicemen and women are not only sexually assaulted, but also harassed and retaliated against for reporting the attacks. This mistreatment of our troops is unacceptable and needs to end now. Too many of these victims never receive justice while their perpetrators walk around free to assault again.
There are a number of measures you can take to enact reform and provide protection for victims of military sexual assault. Do not allow military officers to continue prosecuting their own rape cases. The vast majority of these officers do not have law degrees and are not qualified to judge criminal cases. An independent investigator along with civilian courts and lengthier sentences for convicted rapists would provide more security for our troops.
Failure to accurately report conviction rates of rape in the military should bear a harsher sentence and should be actively prosecuted. Covering up a rape does not make you guilty of rape, but it does make you guilty of every rape after that one.
Since federal tort laws do not apply to military sexual assault victims, it falls on you to protect these people. The Pentagon refuses to acknowledge the problem or any viable solution to end the rampant sexual misconduct within its ranks. As our elected representatives, we need you to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: US Navy via Wikimedia Commons