Rep. Lipinski's Legislation to Combat Military Sexual Assault Added to Defense Bill, Passes Committee
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3) announced today that his bipartisan legislation to help address the growing problem of sexual assault in the military has been added to the National Defense Authorization Act and passed by the House Armed Services Committee. Rep. Lipinski’s bill, the SANE Deployment Act, will require each branch of the military to provide professionally trained sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) to assist in investigations and provide specialized medical treatment and care to victims, ultimately leading to increased attention to victim needs and helping to ensure that the punishment for the offenders fits the crime.
“While I firmly believe we have the greatest military personnel in the world, I continue to be alarmed by the stories of sexual assault in our armed forces,” Rep. Lipinski said. “I started working on the SANE Deployment Act last year when it became clear the military’s response to dealing with sexual assault within its ranks was not working. When I found out that sexual assault nurse examiners were often not available for victims, it was clear that this needed to be changed. I want to thank Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) for co-sponsoring the bill and for introducing the amendment based on the bill in the Armed Services Committee. I would also like to thank Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for co-sponsoring the legislation. This change in policy will provide victims of sexual assault with the care they deserve and will help prevent future assaults.”
The Department of Defense recently estimated that 26,000 military men and women last year may have been sexually assaulted, a 35 percent increase from the 19,300 in 2010. The number of cases actually reported rose to 3,374 in 2012, a 6 percent increase from 2011, suggesting that potentially thousands of sexual assaults are going unreported because victims are unwilling to come forward. Less than 10 percent of reported cases ended with conviction at court martial proceedings, with the majority of those resulting in inadequate administrative punishments or dismissal.
The SANE Deployment Act will require at least one sexual assault nurse examinerfor each Army brigade, and for equivalent-sized units in the other branches. The SANE will be available to collect evidence during the critical early stages of any sexual assault investigation, while also providing physical and mental care specialized for victims subjected to sexual assault.
Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, offered an amendment based on Lipinski’s bill when the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act was marked up in committee Wednesday. The House is expected to vote on the NDAA next week.
“I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues on this common-sense approach to a problem that requires a sensitive, thoughtful response,” Rep. Lipinski said. “This is a disturbing problem that will not go away overnight, but I am hopeful that we can begin empowering more sexual assault victims and punishing the offenders so all of our women and men in the military can serve confidentially, without the fear of being attacked.”
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