A report released Wednesday –based on an anonymous survey–by the Department of Defense states that reports of sexual assault at U.S. Navy and Army military academies are on the rise across the country.
Reuters reports that while the overall number of reports of sexual assault at military academies has decreased slightly, the Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy in Annapolis have seen increases in the reports of sexual assault since last year.
Amid the recent news of members of the United States Marine Corps sharing nude photos of their female colleagues on a private Facebook page, these statistics point to deeper issues. According to the Associated Press, it seems that more people are reporting assaults and crimes which is great. But that uptick in reporting points to the fact that sexual assault is occurring more frequently. The survey reported that many students didn’t report the assaults they occurred because “they didn’t consider it serious enough.” Instead of reporting the crimes, many of the women surveyed opted to avoid their assaulters. The 2 percent of men who say they experienced “unwanted sexual contact” felt much more comfortable confronting their perpetrators.
Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office wants things to be better and has met with leaders in the military to find what he refers to as a “holy grail of prevention.”
“What we want those folks to do at the academies is to find those things that seem to really be hallmark situations and help people be better scouts and identify those precursors earlier and also give them a wider range of things that they might be able to do to intervene,” he said. Sounds good on paper, but in practice, it’s much harder to enact.
There is no silver bullet that will easily cure the pervasive scourge of sexual assault and violence on college campuses or in institutions like the military; in this case, the issue is much more complicated, stemming from a misogynistic culture that has been unchanged for years. While women like Savannah Cunningham are trying their best to exact that change, it will likely be slow to come.