President Signs Act to Prevent Sexual Violence in Military
Last week, President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which included amendments to significantly reform the Department of Defense’s sexual assault and sexual harassment policies. NDAA is a robust bill that specifies the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense, and contains sections that deal with military issues ranging from retiree benefits to programs protecting military personnel from sexual violence.
The sexual violence amendments will improve reporting protocols, hold offenders accountable for their actions, and help protect the men and women of U.S. military from sexual assault and harassment. In total, 19 amendments were included in the landmark bill—the largest number of sexual violence provisions ever signed into law.
We commend the bipartisan Members of Congress who were instrumental to the drafting of the NDAA language, as well as Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense, and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for supporting these significant policy and training changes to address sexual violence the military. Panetta introduced sweeping, department-wide initiatives within the Department of Defense, even before NDAA became law. Futures urges the Department of Defense to swiftly implement these policies so that women and men in uniform can serve knowing that they are safe from sexual assault and harassment.
According to the Department of Labor, a staggering one in three military women has been sexually assaulted. In recent years, the Department of Defense has faced public pressure to address sexual violence within the military thanks to advocacy organizations’ work, increased media coverage of abuse, and awareness-generating vehicles such as the Invisible War.