U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) proposes making professional retaliation against sexual assault victims and whistleblowers in the military a crime. She’s co-sponsoring the legislation with U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who’s a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army National Guard.
“This legislation is separate and distinct from ongoing efforts within the military,” said McCaskill. “They are leveraging special victims councils to do more in this area, they’ve enhanced their training and they’re leveraging case management groups within units to monitor allegations of sexual assaults.”
The proposal would require the Pentagon to gather and publish information on retaliation complaints and inform victims of how their retaliation complaint was decided. It would require training for those who investigate claims of retaliation after a sexual assault. The measure would also establish metrics for measuring the outcomes of efforts to prevent and respond to retaliation.
U.S. military reforms passed since 2013 to curb sexual assaults have led to a decline in assaults and an increase in victim reporting, but a Rand Corp. survey cited by the Pentagon in its most recent report on sexual assault in the military found that rates of retaliation against victims in the military remain high.
“About 62% of the victims felt some sort of retaliation. Now in that number, 53% said it was social retaliation and 32% said professional retaliation. The vast majority of that number, they attributed to their peers or junior commanders, not the commander of the unit,” said McCaskill.
The report also says survivors are reporting confidence in the chain of command.