Washington, Mar.18 (ANI): Pentagon officials said Tuesday that sexual assaults in US military climbed eight percent in 2008-09 in comparison to the previous year.
In the fiscal year 2008, 2,923 people, whether they were service members or civilians subjected to service members, reported a sexual assault. That's up from 2,688 in the previous year.
A Fox News report quoted Dr. Kay Whitley, the director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault and Prevention and Response Office, as saying that this revelation was being viewed as a positive indicator, suggesting that more people are reporting the incidents rather than keeping quiet.
In 2005, the military introduced the option of restrictive reporting, which allows victims to report an assault without revealing the identity of their attacker.
Victims are offered a full range of treatment, including a rape kit if necessary, and have the option of revealing the name of their attacker up to one year later if they choose.
The Pentagon believes this program is working, and accounts for the increase in reporting.
"Sometimes a victim needs time to restore order to his or her life before getting involved in the justice system, and restricted reporting allows this to happen," Whitley said at a news conference Tuesday.
The Pentagon believes, based on anonymous surveys conducted over the past three years, that sexual assaults occur at a relatively equal rate over time.
The Pentagon said one of the major barriers for reporting crimes among victims is fear of retaliation.
The military does not clearly track convictions. But in 2008, 317 service members received courts-martial, including some crimes originally reported in 2007.
In 2008, 588 service members reported that they were raped. Of that number, 95 said they were subjected to nonconsensual sodomy.
Whitley wants service members to know that sexual assaults are the most under reported crimes in the United States, and the military should not be a place where people are afraid to come forward. (ANI)