US Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri have introduced legislation to help fight sexual assault in the military by making it easier for service members to report crimes.
The legislation aims to address the fact that many cases of sexual assault go unreported, often due to service members' fear of retaliation or compromising their career. The Department of Defense estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were victims of unwanted sexual contact last year, with only 3,300 cases reported. The bill strengthens existing military whistleblower protection laws to ensure that victims of sexual crimes are protected from punishment for reporting sexual assault.
The senators' legislation would add sexual assault and other sexual misconduct offenses to the list of violations for which communications to members of Congress or the inspector general are protected. The bill also prohibits retaliatory action, and subjects any retaliatory action to a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation.