Various women in the Senate have vowed to continue the fight against military sexual assault despite Senator Carl Levin’s announcement Tuesday that he would be removing a provision in the defense spending bill that would take sexually violent cases out of the chain of command.
Speaking to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Wednesday, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said, “You know, for 20 long years, various secretaries of defense have said these words: ‘We have zero tolerance for this kind of activity in the military and were not going to allow it.’ And every single secretary of defense never made the changes. We have to make the changes.”
“It’s very disappointing,” she continued, “but I have to tell you – what they did today is embrace the status quo instead of embracing the victims and using this as an opportunity to bring needed change.”
Levin claimed removing prosecution from the chain of command for sexually violent crimes would “weaken” response to sexual assault within each branch of the armed forces. But Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) disagreed with him, saying, “men and women who are brutally raped and assaulted in the military don’t believe there’s a possibility of justice.”
It is estimated that over 26,000 men and women in the military experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012. Of those cases, only 3,374 were reported and only 302 of the incidents were prosecuted.
Boxer insists she and her colleagues, which include a bipartisan coalition of 27 Senators who backed her original legislation removing prosecution from the chain of command, will continue to advocate for her language in the defense bill. “We’re going to fight to get it done we are going to get our day on the full Senate floor,” she told Hayes.
Media Resources: New York Times 6/12/2013; CBS 6/12/2013; Feminist Newswire 6/12/2013; MSNBC 6/12/2013