Defense Sees Little Progress on Unwanted Sexual Contact in Six Years

A female soldier goes through a training exercise in 2011. A female soldier goes through a training exercise in 2011. Defense Department

Some 6.1 percent of military women reported unwanted sexual contact in 2012, compared to 6.8 percent in 2006, according to new data from the Pentagon, despite Defense Department efforts to tackle what it acknowleges as a sexual assault crisis.

Of the reported incidents, 67 percent happened on military installations, and 41 percent occurred during duty hours, according to the 2012 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members.

The top three types of offenders were military coworkers, other military members and personnel at a higher rank, the survey said. Some 3 percent of the victims “indicated the offender used drugs to knock them out.”

Among all military women surveyed – not just victims of unwanted sexual contact – 70 percent said they would feel comfortable if they had to report instances of sexual assault, compared with 59 percent in 2006. Still, 67 percent of women who said they were victims of unwanted sexual contact in 2012 chose not to report the incidents to military authorities.

Defense surveyed nearly 109,000 men and women between September and November of 2012 to compile the data in the study. It follows another study released by Defense in May that found the number of instances of “unwanted sexual contact” among service members rose sharply in fiscal 2012. 

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