How to Stop Sexual Assault in the Ranks
In the wake of the recent release of the Air Force investigation into sexual misconduct by Basic Military Training instructors at Lackland Air Force Base, Congress is likely to address the issue of military sexual violence through provisions in the pending National Defense Authorization Act.
With proposals ranging from creating military Special Victims Units, to reserving case-disposition authority for high-ranking officers, to strengthening penalties for offenders, legislators have vowed to get tough on crime against women in uniform.
But are they having the right conversation?
While enhanced prosecution is a laudable and necessary goal, the narrative of a broken criminal justice system only presents half the story behind the epidemic of military sexual violence. With its focus on the acts of individual offenders, the criminal justice system is simply not structured to serve as a vehicle for institutional reform or a means of empowering victims, whose role is usually limited to providing testimonial evidence.