The Department of Defense estimates that as many as 19,000 sexual assaults may have occurred in the military in 2011. Now, the U.S. senate is cracking down on the way sexual assaults in the military are handled.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the 2013 defense policy bill that would force the military to discharge service members convicted of sexual assault.
They're also considering several other amendments that would toughen the way sexual assaults are dealt with by the military.
According to the Department of Defense, more than 3,000 sexual assault cases were reported in 2011.
However, the DoD acknowledges sexual assault is an under-reported crime, and the 3,000 figure only reflects the number of assaults that were reported.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the real number may be as high as 19,000, a figure based on surveys of active duty personnel.
Carla Butcher served four years in the Navy, but six months into her service, she was raped during a port visit.
She believes no one who has committed a sex crime should be allowed to stay in the military.
“We are the face of our country, so why should they be able to stay if they're hurting another person in the military -why should they be able to do that?” said Butcher.
Butcher took her assailant to trial in the military courts system, called a courts martial, and she lost.
She says the system failed her in a number of ways: Her rape kit wasn't admitted as evidence in the trial, and one of her jurors was stationed with her when she was raped, and may have been friends with the man who raped her.
The Senate has several other amendments pending that would change the military's policy's for handling sexual assaults, including one that would require sexual assault charges to be handled through a courts martial.
The Department of Defense has been working to deal with the issue of sexual assault. For example, they've implemented a new policy that takes investigations of sexual assaults outside the victim's command.