It looks like there's at least one positive side effect of the summer's exposé of the sexual assault and harassment of 48 female trainees at Lackland Air Force Base—that attention's being drawn to the myriad problems and legal loopholes in the U.S. armed forces when it comes to the well-being of their female troops. Back in October, three congresswomen (Loretta Sanchez, Susan Davis, and Jackie Speier) got together to do some policymaking/spackling on this particularly shitty, asbestos-covered old wall of America.
Now, another small victory: although the policy of banning perpetrators of sexual assault from the U.S. began in 2009 with an administrative sanction from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, today Senator Barbara Boxer announced that the Senate had unanimously voted yes on her amendment to keep the decision from ever being reversed. Specifically, to stop the armed forces from granting waivers to military candidates with a sex crime on their record, which was the scary pre-2009 policy until a report from the Army noted that service members with waivers were more likely to commit a felony sex crime on active duty than those without waivers. Fucking duh.
3,192 incidents of military sexual assault were reported in 2011, but the Department of Defense estimates that the number of unreported crimes might actually place the rate up around 19,000. Senator Boxer announced the news as such: "We owe it to our brave service members to do everything we can to protect them from sexual assault... The Senate's action today will strengthen the military's zero tolerance policy for these heinous acts of violence by permanently banning those convicted of felony sexual assault from serving in our military."
'Senate Passes Boxer Amendment to Keep Sex Offenders Out of the Military' [Official website of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer]