Today, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) called on the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to conduct a formal review of all materials distributed to service members after news reports detailed a shockingly inappropriate brochure distributed at Shaw Air Force Base that tells potential victims of sexual assault, among other things, that "it may be advisable to submit than to resist." Congresswoman Slaughter first learned of the brochure while appearing on All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC last week.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Hagel and Major General Patton, Slaughter asks that the department "review all the materials that your office uses, and employ the assistance of outside experts in sexual assault prevention and treatment in your efforts to ensure that the appropriate messages about sexual assault prevention and response are being provided to all servicewomen and men. We cannot perpetuate the myths of sexual assault and expect to see real change in the prevalence of such events at the same time." Rep. Slaughter also attached the Shaw Air Force Base brochure to the letter, which she said "contains multiple victim-blaming and inappropriate messages regarding sexual assault."
The exposition of this brochure comes on the heels of several alarming news reports regarding sexual assault in the military. On Tuesday, the Pentagon said an Army sergeant who served as a sexual assault prevention and response coordinator at Fort Hood, Tex., is under investigation for abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates. Last weekend, outlets reported that Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, chief of the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) was removed from his position after being arrested and charged with sexual battery over the weekend. Last week, SAPRO also released a report that showed the estimated number of all service members experiencing unwanted sexual contact was 26,000 in FY12; up from 19,300 in FY10, and that 62 percent of victims who reported harassment or assault perceived some form of social, administrative or professional retaliation for coming forward.
In order to deal with the issue of retaliation against service members who report sexual assault, Rep. Slaughter authored an amendment included in last year's FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that requires the Department of Defense to educate service members about the option to apply for the correction of military records when a member experiences any retaliatory personnel action (loss of rank or assignments, for example) for making a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment. Slaughter met with Department of Defense officials last week to discuss implementation of the policy. Another provision written by Rep. Slaughter included in the FY12 NDAA -- which allows sexual assault victims to obtain an expedited base transfer from their superior officer, and to appeal to the next highest-ranking official if denied a transfer by their direct superior -- has resulted in 99 percent of these expedited transfer requests being approved, according to the SAPRO report which was released last week.