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How Common Is Army Sexual Harassment?

Surveys have shown that up to a third of women in the Army have faced sexual harassment.
Some military cases of sexual harassment involve men who have been harassed by other male servicemembers.
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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 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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croydon
Post 3

@Mor - Unfortunately, I think that it's going to take a while before it truly stops being an issue (if it ever does). The US military just isn't used to having men and women, or even openly gay people, in their ranks and they have no idea how to act in those circumstances.

I actually think they need to look to other countries and see what the differences are, because I sincerely doubt that countries where military service is mandatory for both sexes have this problem.

Mor
Post 2

@bythewell - I think that the fact that we glorify soldiers is part of the problem though. It's also a problem of numbers. Harassment in the military, of men or women, is often treated as something to cover-up and ignore because they'd rather keep two harassers than one person being harassed in the service.

I do think soldiers deserve respect to a point, but that doesn't give them the right to prey on others in any shape or form.

I am hoping that this is going to eventually start becoming more widely publicized so that the people in charge are forced to crack down on harassment, whether they want to or not.

bythewell
Post 1

The thing is, the way that female soldiers are seen in society in general is also a contributing factor to army sexual harassment. I saw a news report a while ago where the newscasters made inappropriate jokes about women in a particular deployment and it was disgusting. Honorable soldiers of any kind should be treated with the utmost respect, because they are putting their lives on the line.

If society started treating this as shameful, the people from society who go into the army wouldn't see it as something they have a right to do.

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