US military reports 20,348 sexual assaults in 4 years

Washington, Nov 18: The US military has reported a total of 20,348 sexual assaults from 2013 to 2016 at the country's defence installations around the world, the Pentagon said in a new report. The report, provided by the Department of Defence's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) on Friday detailed the number of sexual assault reports across the services and joint bases, as well in combat zones, reports Xinhua news agency. The Army had the highest number of cases at 8,284 in the four years, according to the report. The number of cases in the Navy stood at 4,788, with 3,876 reports in the Air Force and 3,400 in the Marine Corps. The Pentagon estimated that 32 per cent of service members experiencing sexual assaults in the 2016 fiscal year, up from 25 per cent in the previous two years. Holding Army, Navy and Air Force units, Joint Base San Antonio had the most sexual assault reports of any joint base across the four-year period, with 881. As to combat areas, Afghanistan received 295 sexual assault reports from fiscal 2013 to 2016, higher than any other country that has US military presence. "One of the features of the department's reporting program is that service members can report allegations of sexual assault at any time and at any place," Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the SAPRO, said. "A report could involve allegations for an incident that occurred while on deployment, while away on leave, or even prior to entering the military." In 2013, the Pentagon began allowing victims of sexual assault to seek legal help without notifying their command and police, which would be classified as restricted reports. Sexual assault victims who seek police involvement have unrestricted reports. According to the SAPRO statement, the statistics were published now "due to recent requests for this information under the Freedom of Information Act".  

IANS