Roughly 135,000 active duty US service members have been the victim of sexual assault since 2010, a Pentagon report released on Friday said as US President Joe Biden called for sexual assault cases to be removed from the military’s chain of command.
The number of those who have been victims of sexual assault includes 65,400 women and 69,600 men. The report from the Independent Review Commission on Military Sexual Assault (IRC) also found that some 509,000 active duty service members have been the subject of sexual harassment.
“These hundreds of thousands of Service members who experienced sexual harm are clear evidence that culture has not changed, and that leaders have failed to ‘move the needle,’ as Chairman Milley recently acknowledged,” the report says, referring to Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley and a lack of progress on addressing sexual assault in the military.
Biden said the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases should now be removed from the military chain of command’s purview, and should instead be handled by independent military lawyers.
The president also called on Congress to implement “necessary reforms and promote a work environment that is free from sexual assault and harassment for every one of our brave service members.”
“Sexual assault is an abuse of power and an affront to our shared humanity. And sexual assault in the military is doubly damaging because it also shreds the unity and cohesion that is essential to the functioning of the U.S. military and to our national defense,” Biden said in a statement.
“Yet, for as long as we have abhorred this scourge, the statistics and the stories have grown worse. We need concrete actions that fundamentally change the way we handle military,” he added.
The changes Biden outlined are from the IRC’s report.