Few spaces are truly safe from sexual assault. Intimate relationships, college campuses, and the military aren't dark alleyways in the seedy part of town, but that doesn't mean rape and sexual assault don't occur with within their bounds. Military sexual assault has a controversial history. In 2011, a court dismissed a rape case of over a dozen women, ruling that because of the military's unique structure, it was out of the court's purview to deal with and was basically an "occupational hazard."
Recently, the tide has begun to turn as more servicewomen and men speak out about their experiences with sexual assault, and the U.S. Air Force in particular is looking towards college anti-sexual assault programs for help. According to ABC News, "The Pentagon has been working to change behaviors since the problem gained new attention in recent years with reports on elevated rates of assault in the ranks." Although this is no quick and easy process, it's definitely encouraging to hear that this issue is being addressed.
In 2014, there was a 11 percent increase in reports of sexual assault in the military. Although it might seem like increased reports mean increased instances of sexual assault, the Defense Department suggests this statistic proves that survivors feel more comfortable coming forward than ever before. That is heartening, given that in 2013, over a million military and former military members sought outpatient treatment in the Veteran's Affairs Military Sexual Trauma programs. In 2014, 19 percent of sexual assault cases brought forth were tried, and seven percent of offenders accused were convicted. One in three survivors of sexual assault thought their reporting would hurt their career, that the process would be unfair, or that nothing would be done in response.
In view of these statistics, it is important that the U.S. Military take a more assertive stance against sexual assault, and it is reassuring to see branches like the U.S. Air Force stepping forward to address this issue.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated from its original version.