Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today introduced legislation to strengthen protections for service members who are victims of sexual assault. The Defense Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance Act (The Defense STRONG Act) would strengthen legal protections for sexual assault victims and improve the systems to prevent and respond to sexual assault in the military.
"Sexual assault has no place anywhere, but especially not in the military where brave men and women live by a code and rightly pride themselves on honor," said Sen. Kerry. "As a prosecutor, I saw with my own eyes the ravages of sexual assault on its victims. We have to work to stop this from happening and act swiftly when it does, and by advancing the key recommendations of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military, this legislation is an important step in the right direction."
"The STRONG Act will help ensure that many of the recommendations made by the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military are enacted to truly build a culture of zero-tolerance towards sexual assault. If we provide the legal protections for victims and their advocates, and if we guarantee support for the victims of sexual assault, we can take the fragile and reversible gains in the fight against military sexual trauma and turn them into sustainable and irreversible progress," said Sen. Collins.
While 1 in 6 women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime, as many as 1 in 3 women leaving military service report that they have experienced some form of sexual trauma while serving in the military. The military has made strides in addressing this problem, but victims of sexual assault in the services still report problems including a lack of confidentiality, protection, support, and access to legal counsel once an incident is reported because it lacks a concrete system for dealing with sexual assaults.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT