Inspector General Investigation of Allegations of Retaliatory Personnel Actions Taken in Response to Making Protected Communications Regarding Sexual Assaultby Representative Kristi L. Noem
Posted on 2013-06-26
NOEM. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for their hard work and leadership on this issue, and I am very proud to stand up in support of this legislation.
The number is staggering--26,000. That's how many military members were sexually assaulted last year alone, and thousands more were unwilling to come forward.
Research has shown that victims only report, roughly, 14 percent of all sexual assaults to law enforcement. Many who choose not to come forward may not have the confidence that they will actually receive justice. They may fear that reporting a fellow servicemember will result in threats or could negatively impact their careers. A recent DOD report showed that 62 percent of victims who reported sexual assaults faced some kind of retaliation. That's terrible.
This legislation is going to provide safeguards and additional protections for victims. By requiring an inspector general investigation into any allegations of retaliatory personnel actions taken against victims, we are clearly stating that this behavior is unacceptable, that it is inexcusable and will no longer be tolerated.
This legislation is part of a broader effort to do as much as we can to address the problem. For too long, lawmakers, military officials, and civilians have discussed the need to bring an end to sexual assault. This bill is another opportunity to put words into action and to take meaningful steps to address this growing problem. We have a responsibility to ensure adequate protections are in place, and we also have to provide physical and mental support for those victims as well as to insist on swift punishment for those who are responsible.
I am proud that Members on both sides of the aisle have worked on this bill as well as on other measures that we have previously passed as part of the Defense Authorization Act. It is only the start of a process that will change the culture in the military. It will establish a safe environment for all individuals--for service men and women--but we have to continue to do all that we can to solve this problem.
Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Madam Speaker, I now yield 1 minute to the ranking member on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, the gentlelady from California (Mrs. Davis).