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Conference Examines Problem of Military Sexual Assaults

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    NEWSLETTERS

    As the number of reported military sexual assaults goes up, the pressure to take action continues to mount for the military.

    The Thomas Jefferson School of Law hosted a "women in the military" conference Friday to look at ways to address the problem.

    Female service members, military leaders and prosecuting experts will discuss solutions with a sold-out student audience.

    The number of reported sexual assaults across the military shot up by more than 50 percent in 2013.

    There were more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault compared to the 3300 in 2012.

    Some defense officials say the increase is due to victims becoming more willing to come forward.

    A sexual assault expert for the U.S. Marines said male and female victims are coming forward in order to be heard, despite possible consequences.

    “In the military, they're victims everywhere they go,” said Gretchen Means, U.S. Marine Corps sexual assault expert. “The military is their home, it's their social structure. It's their work.”

    Following harsh criticism, the military has launched a series of new programs intended to beef up accountability.

    Retired Brigadier General David Brahams said one solution would be to set up a reporting system that is completely anonymous.

    “I am not afraid to intervene. Sadly, I think today's leaders are. We have to be honest about the fact that these things occur,” said Brahms.

    An annual report released in 2013 said that of the 1.4 million active duty personnel, 6.1 percent of active duty women — or 12,100 — say they experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, a sharp increase over the 8,600 who said that in 2010. For men, the number increased from 10,700 to 13,900.

    A majority of the offenders were military members or Defense Department civilians or contractors, the report said.