Women in military cite retaliation after assault complaints

The New York Times reports: Nearly two-thirds of women in the military who filed sexual assault complaints last year said they faced retaliation, according to a Pentagon report released on Friday.

The study found that the number of sexual assaults in the military declined last year, echoing the conclusion of a Defense Department report released in December. But the new study said that the number of attacks in the fiscal year that ended in September may have been slightly higher than the figure in the December report.

Even as sexual assaults were reported to have declined, the Pentagon said that more service members filed assault complaints, and that about a third of attacks were now being reported. The study attributed the rise in reports of attacks to a “greater confidence” among victims that their complaints would be properly handled.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter outlined steps that the military was taking to reduce the thousands of sexual assaults that occur each year. The initiatives include updated training, a new strategy to prevent retaliation and a biennial survey of sexual assault and harassment throughout the military.

But he appeared well aware of past criticism of the Pentagon’s portrayal of the increase in assault reports as a sign that victims were more comfortable filing complaints. Critics say that previous studies did not fully substantiate the military’s conclusion, and that rising reports of attacks could mean that assaults are increasing. [Continue reading…]

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