Late last week, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (NDAA), which expands efforts to prevent sexual assault and strengthens protections for victims.
Under the new law, any individual in the military who sexual assaults another will face dishonorable discharge, and commanders will not be able to overturn jury decisions. Legal assistance will be provided for victims, and retaliation against a victim will be punished.
The inclusion of efforts to prevent sexual assault and improve protections for victims comes after a long campaign led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and activist groups. The Senate is expected to vote on another potential improvement, Sen. Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), this month. The Act, which will take the decision of whether to prosecute sexual assault cases out of the chain of command and give it to independent, objective, trained military prosecutors, was supposed to be included in the NDAA, but will instead be voted on as a stand-alone measure.
President Obama has also called for a year-long report on progress eradicating sexual assault in military.
Media Resources: The White House Office of the Press Secretary 12/26/13; Huffington Post 12/26/13; ThinkProgress 12/27/13; Feminist Newswire 11/22/13, 12/23/13