You would think protecting members of our military from being sexually assaulted, or ensuring that those who do carry out such a heinous act would face justice for their actions, would be one of those rare “no-brainer” issues that Congress could come together on to get something positive accomplished.
Well, while everyone was distracted by Donald Trump’s presidential announcement, a bill aimed at protecting victims of sexual assault in our military failed to get enough support in the Senate to break a filibuster.
As it stands now, the military mostly polices itself when it comes to reports of sexual assaults and how to proceed once an accusation has been made. Though, for years, there’s been a growing number of complaints that the system as it stands now is so corrupt that many sexual assaults go unreported because the victims don’t trust the system. Not only that, but those who report sexual assaults often claim they fear retaliation against them for speaking out against their attacker.
Clearly the military has been doing an awful job of “self-policing” when it comes to these issues, so there’s been a push in Washington in the form of a bill sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to take sexual assault cases out of the military chain of command and give them to an independent third party to investigate. The feeling is that the independent party would be an impartial arbiter of these cases to see that true justice is served.
“No one should have to suffer the chain of command when they report these crimes,” Gillibrand said. “Retaliation happens so often that a majority of these assaults go unreported. Every military victim of sexual assault deserves due process, professional treatment by a trained military official at each opportunity to seek and receive justice.”
While there were nine Democrats who voted against the bill, at a vote of 50-49, even with their support it wouldn’t have been enough to get to the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster. The lone missing vote was Sen. Marco Rubio; I guess this wasn’t an issue he found to be very important.
In other words, it’s mostly Republicans who are opposing this bill – as usual.
To put into perspective just how ridiculous it is that we can’t get this bill passed and signed by the president, senators Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Harry Reid, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren all voted for this bill. To have those six individuals on the same side of any issue is remarkable.
You might be asking yourself, “So, just how bad is sexual assault in our military?” Well, a survey released last month by the Pentagon said that there were 19,000 sexual assaults last year, or 52 every single day.
That is horrifying.
Yet, despite a current system that’s clearly not protecting victims, the Senate rejected the idea of assigning an independent party to investigate these claims to help ensure that not only are victims not retaliated against, but that those individuals carrying out these disgusting assaults face proper justice.
It’s a sad day for this country – and those members of our military who’ve been sexually assaulted – that something as common sense as this can’t even get passed.
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