WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski has introduced legislation meant to protect service members who report being victims of military sexual violence.
“Service members who become victims of sexual violence deserve nothing less than the assurance and peace of mind that they can safely report these crimes, without fear of reprisal from within their ranks,” the Republican from Elkhart said in a press release Tuesday, May 7. “Military sexual assault is not just a crime, but also impacts morale and military readiness.”
The proposal, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-California, follows a new Pentagon report, released Tuesday, that indicates a rise in sexual assaults in the military. There were an estimated 19,000 victims of sexual violence in the military during fiscal year 2011, but only 2,723 service members filed a report of sexual assault according to the U.S. Department of Defense report.
“The Department of Defense also found that victims often don’t come forward because they worry about retaliation or fear that reporting a fellow service member may negatively impact their career,” Walorski said in the release.
Walorski and Sanchez’s measure would strengthen existing military whistleblower protection laws “to clarify that victims of sexual crimes are protected from punishment for reporting sexual assault,” Walorski said in the release. Both lawmakers serve on the House Armed Services Committee.