The Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), although not the final answer, is a great first step in our fight for justice for crime victims. Currently, the Department of Defense (DoD) estimates that 26,300 service members are victims of military sexual assault (touching). These numbers do not include other violent crimes, sexual harassment, stalking, bullying, hazing, etc. Of those numbers, the DoD estimates that more then half of them are male victims, which proves that this is not a female issue but instead a repeat offender issue.
The military’s current justice system elevates an individual Commander’s discretion over the rule of law. The MJIA legislation would help us create an impartial system where victims would feel safe to report. They are telling us in their own voices that they do not trust the Chain of Command to handle their cases effectively. Recent DoD studies have shown that 62% of those who reported were in fact retaliated against which reinforces others to remain silent.
The MJIA would not only give them a safe place to report confidentially but would allow a legal professional to determine whether or not a case should be tried in a court of law. The biggest problem with military sexual assault is underreporting. We can’t fix the problem unless the soldiers feel safe enough to report. We can’t rid the military of perpetrators if we do not work together to get a conviction and protect our military and civilians.
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