Three elite US military colleges have reported a record number of sexual assault incidents during the current year, leading to calls for more serious measures to quash the trend.
According to a report issued Friday by US Defense Department, the American military schools reported 80 cases of sexual assault, which amounts to a 23-percent surge compared to the previous academic year, The Washington Post
According to the report, all except four of the military cadets that reported being sexually assaulted during the 2011-12 academic year were women.
However, senior US military officials insist that the figure may be misleading since “men are extraordinarily reticent to report having been victims of sexual assault.”
The report further reveals that over 60 percent of the assaults were reported by military personnel assigned to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which experience a 33-percent surge in such cases compared with last year.
The new figures, the daily adds, follow another report, released in November, on “pervasive sexual abuse” and inappropriate conduct by military cadets at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the military unit’s main instruction facility.
That report further added that at least 48 female students were victims of “sexual assault or inappropriate conduct by instructors” between October 2010 and June 2011, said the US-based daily.
Advocates for military victims of sexual assault have emphasized that the Friday’s report provides evidence that the US military has still ways to go in order to overcome cultural and legal barriers that remain in the way of punishing perpetrators.
“This report shines a light on the severity and scope of the crisis,” Nancy Parrish, president of Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy group, said in a Friday statement quoted by the Post. “It validates our worst fears and what we know to be true because of the number of frantic calls and emails we receive for active duty personnel who continue to be retaliated against for reporting their rape.”
However, the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, claimed on Friday that the report reflects a “positive trend,” since it suggests that military personnel feel empowered to seek help and justice.