This is about bringing justice for victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the U.S. military. In all branches of the armed forces, all personnel are required to report any crimes or misconduct to the chain of command. The commanders have sole discretion in deciding whether a case is investigated or prosecuted.
However, in cases of sexual harassment and assault, the offender often is a member of the victim’s chain of command. Even when this isn’t the case, victims typically face backlash from those above and around them for reporting.
The Military Justice Improvement Act (S.1752/S.967), sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and currently under consideration in the Senate, would transfer the power of investigation and prosecution from the chain of command to an independent judiciary.
From the Congressional Research Service’s summary of the bill (emphasis added):
Requires that the determination of whether to try such an offense by general or special courts-martial be made by a commissioned officer of grade 0-6 or higher who is available for detail as a trial counsel, has significant experience in trials by general or special court-martial, and is outside the chain of command of the member subject to such charges.
I believe that those who are serving our country deserve justice; I believe they shouldn’t have to fear such abhorrent violence and harassment from their peers or superiors. I believe that a system in which an offending officer decides his victim’s fate is a broken system.
Therefore, I want this bill passed, and I hope you do too. Here’s what I’ve done and what you can do.
Sign the petition on Change.org. You might think that Internet petitions don’t change anything–and normally, I’d agree with you–but Change.org has become a powerful platform for bringing about real results. I’ve seen it happen. Examples:
- Victories on Change.org
- NPR: Petitions are Going Viral, Sometimes to Great Success
- BrandChannel: Time and Again, Change.org Proves a Potent Force in Nudging Brands
You can also easily call your Senators at govtrack.us and let them know you support the bill.
Other sources and resources:
- Status, text, and details of the MJIA on govtrack.us
- NPR: Sexual Violence Victims Say Military Justice System is ‘Broken’
- “‘When I reported [the rape], it was a very small part of my life. But by making that choice, my reporting of it took over my life, ruined my career and wound up, ultimately, getting me kicked out of the Army.'” -Myla Haider, former Army criminal investigator
- New York Times: Reports of Military Sexual Assault Rise Sharply
- Christian Science Monitor: Is Pentagon response to sexual assault broken? Clash over new bill
- The Service Women’s Action Network on Military Sexual Violence
Let’s make this happen!