Finally some encouraging news for sexual abuse victims in the military. According to a piece in The New York Times today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is plugging two new bills in response to the disturbing numbers of rape victims coming out of the military. The Defense Department has estimated the number of sexual abuse at 19,000 annual cases. Of those, only 3,192 are reported, and only 10 percent of those cases are actually brought to trial. That means not even two percent of sexual assault victims are receiving any kind of closure.
Gillibrand is working to change this problematic imbalance. The first bill she’s proposing would allow women in the military to pay for their own abortions regardless of circumstance. As it stands, military doctors can only conduct abortions if the woman’s life is endangered or in the case of rape or incest. Unfortunately, women in high stations are often unwilling to report rape for fear of losing their careers. With the bill, they wouldn’t have to risk it.
The second bill would eliminate the interiority of military court proceedings. Instead of allowing often-untrained military officials to decide whether verdicts should be scrapped after they have already been rendered, Gillibrand would give authority to a prosecutor independent of the military.
Let’s hope these bills—and others like it—pass.