Lawmakers To Introduce Bill To Expand Legal Rights, Protections To Military Victims Of Sexual Assault

Lawmakers To Introduce Bill To Expand Legal Rights, Protections To Military Victims Of Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers will introduce a bipartisan bill Wednesday that for the first time would provide expanded legal rights and protections for service members who have been the victims of sexual assault while serving in the military.

The Defense STRONG (Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance) Act comes at a time when the Pentagon is being sued for turning a blind eye — or not doing enough — to combat sexual misconduct in the military.

A growing number of women soldiers are returning home as victims of sexual trauma inflicted on them by their own comrades in arms. Recent studies reveal that as many as one in three women leaving military service report they have experienced some form of military sexual trauma, or MST. But the Pentagon estimates that as few as 13.5 percent of sexual assaults are reported. And while 40 percent of sexual assault allegations in the civilian world are prosecuted, just 8 percent of similar allegations are brought to justice in the military.

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