Reports of sexual assault in the military went up 50 percent in 2013 in the midst of a campaign to make victims more confident in the ability of the armed services to properly handle and prosecute such incidents, the Associated Press reports.
Over the past two years, the military services have increased awareness of the problem and treatment programs to instill more confidence in the system and get victims to come forward. Phone numbers and contact information for sexual assault prevention officers are plastered across military bases, including inside the doors of bathroom stalls. And top military officers have traveled to bases around the world speaking out on the issue.
Officials said prosecutions also have increased. Galbreath said the military was able to take some action against 73 percent of the accused perpetrators who were subject to the military justice system. In 2012 it was 66 percent.
Last year saw 5,000 official reports, which is still likely well short of coming close to the number of actual incidents; in 2012, an anonymous survey found that 25,000-plus service members had been victims of sexual assault in the previous year.
14 percent of last year's reports were from men, a number which is itself not believed to represent the actual gender breakdown of assault victims. "Officials are still unhappy with the low number of male victims who reported sexual assault, and they say there will be a greater emphasis in the months ahead on getting men to come forward and seek help," the AP writes.
In March the Senate passed a bill, authored by Claire McCaskill, that mandates more aggressive handling of military sexual assault allegations. The bill is pending in the House. Another set of reforms was passed in 2013.