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Hirono: “Survivors deserve the opportunity to report their attacks without fear of retaliation and to face a fair military justice system”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono voted today during a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of a measure aimed at stopping and prosecuting sexual assaults in the military. The measure would give military prosecutors the power to decide which sexual assault cases to try, taking that power out of the hands of military commanders. Hirono joined a minority of senators in voting to keep the measure in the National Defense Authorization Act.

“Our women and men in uniform serve and sacrifice to protect our freedoms, yet far too many are targeted and become victims of sexual assault and harassment, sometimes even within their own units. During our Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, I have heard heartbreaking stories from survivors like Rebekah Havrilla who shared how commanders took no action even after her perpetrator admitted his crime. Men and women in Rebekah’s situation deserve the opportunity to report their attacks without fear of retaliation and to face a fair military justice system. Although I am disappointed this measure was not ultimately included in the legislation, I am looking forward to working closely with a bipartisan group of colleagues to make sure these much-needed reforms are supported before the full Senate,” said Senator Hirono.

The measure, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), would reform the military justice system by removing the prosecution of all crimes punishable by one year or more in confinement from the chain of command, except crimes that are uniquely military in nature, such as disobeying orders or going Absent Without Leave.

According to the FY2012 SAPRO report recently released by the Defense Department, an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual assault occurred in FY2012, a 37% increase from FY2011. Another report released by the Defense Department showed that more than 1 in 5 female service members reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact while serving in the military.

Hirono recently joined Gillibrand, other Senate and House colleagues and survivors in unveiling similar legislation that would help stop and prosecute sexual assaults in the military. You can watch Hirono’s full remarks during the introduction here: