The U.S. military
experienced a spike in sexual assaults in 2018. A report
released last Thursday surveyed men and women across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, uncovering 20,500 incidents involving unwanted sexual contact last year. That's a 38 percent increase on the 14,900 cases the last time the survey was carried out in 2016. The incidents ranged from rape to groping with 13,000 women and 7,500 men making up the total.
The number of formal reports made by service members is far lower than the estimated total number of incidents documented by the survey. In 2018, 6,053 incidents were formally reported and in 2016, that figure was 4,794. The Marines had the highest rate of estimated sexual assault
out of all services last year and they increases nearly 11 percent. Across all branches, sexual assault rates for women went up significantly with female service members aged 17 to 24 judged as being most at risk. 62 percent of the most serious sexual assaults involved alsohol consumption while the victim knew their attacker in 85 percent of all cases.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan penned a letter to senior department officials, saying that the Pentagon will try to curb and eliminate sexual assault in the military. He wrote "to put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other. This is unacceptable". He continued by writing that "we cannot shrink from facing the challenge head on. We must, and will, do better."