How Common Is Army Sexual Harassment?

Surveys have shown that up to a third of women in the Army have faced sexual harassment.
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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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Reports of army sexual harassment are very common. In the United States military, past Pentagon surveys reveal that as many as one-third of all enlisted women experience some form of sexual harassment. One example of the prevalence of this problem is evident in the fact that more than 1,500 reports of Army sexual harassment or assault were reported during a single year, whereas the three other branches of the U.S. military received fewer than 900 reports combined in that same year. While the precise number of sexual harassment reports varies by year, previous snapshots reveal that Army sexual harassment, in particular, is indeed quite common.

The sexual harassment of women in the army has been an ongoing concern for militaries around the world. Harassment in the military, in general, undermines goals of creating a familial bond between service members and has the potential to distract individual service members from the core purpose of protecting one’s home country. While complaints of many different types of harassment are frequent in military forces, most countries have enacted laws intending to protect service members against harassment.

With concentrated efforts to decrease and ultimately eliminate sexual harassment and assaults, the United States military has enacted unique educational programs in an effort to educate soldiers and other military personnel on the scope of this problem, as well as to remove the stigma previously associated with reporting incidents of sexual harassment and assault. Not only has the U.S. military sought to inform soldiers and others about sexual harassment, but increased efforts have been made to encourage fellow service men and women to intervene whenever incidents of Army sexual harassment are witnessed. Additional efforts have also been made to make victims aware of reporting procedures and available resources for times when sexual harassment or assault actually occurs.

Despite efforts to reduce army sexual harassment, some experts speculate that a continued increase in the number of women enlisting in the armed services may be linked to an increase in the number of harassment reports. While a great number of army sexual harassment complaints are initiated by women, the sexual harassment of men in the army also occurs. In fact, harassers may be of the same sex as the victim and those filing a complaint may not necessarily be the targeted victim, but may be a bystander who witnessed the harassment or assault and has been negatively impacted by such actions. In light of these facts, an increase in the rates of reports of sexual harassment in the army may be affected, which may further cause military sexual harassment to appear to be even more common.

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