After having a brief heart attack last night when my Netflix wouldn’t load and being unable to watch House of Cards, I finished the remainder of the season this morning (don’t worry – no spoilers). In this season, sexual assault in the military becomes relevant and it caused me to think about actual cases of this and what’s being done.
I started by googling, “sexual assault in the military.” I came up with a report from PBS NewsHour, which noted that the number of sexual assaults in 2013 was up 50% from the previous year. The Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) broke down the numbers from 2010 (19,300 estimated cases of assault) and found that 10,700 of those victims were men and 8,600 were women. SWAN also reports that in terms of causing PTSD, sexual assault in the military is the leading cause for women while it is combat for men.
What’s being done about this? Congress has a few suggestions. For starters, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel supported stripping military commanders of their power to have the final say on rape convictions. Several senators voiced similar solutions, however I could find no proof that this went anywhere.
Other senators have proposed laws that require anyone convicted of sexual assault to be dismissed or given a dishonorable discharge, regardless of how great someone may be at their job. Currently, that plays a role in how commanders chose which cases are worth prosecuting or not. Again, I could find nothing that showed that this went anywhere.
Riddle me this: what good is an idea if nothing ever comes of it? Sexual assault in the military becomes a relevant topic when something horrible happens and the press finds out. Then, it’s a discussion and little more. I don’t consider it good enough to just say what could be done to prevent sexual assault from happening and then seeing nothing come of it.
It was frustrating to watch the situation in House of Cards play out (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go start watching right now) and it becomes even more frustrating to watch it play out in the real world. Talk means very little. Action is what really matters.