Sexual assaults at the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina have risen an astonishing 10 percent in the last year, putting it atop the list of the most sexual assaults at a single Marine Corps installation worldwide, according to a story published Sunday by Stars and Stripes.
The report (PDF), released late last month, found that, “Despite our efforts, we have been ineffective at addressing and eliminating sexual assault within our ranks. … It is completely incompatible with our core values and directly undermines readiness, unit cohesion, and morale.”
The report goes on to outline a new program that is designed to increase reporting and decrease the number of sexual assaults. The 346 reported at Camp Lejeune in 2011 are part of the up the nearly 3,200 sexual assaults reported in the military overall last year. Of those, only about a fifth went to trial and half of those resulted in acquittal.
Secretary Leon Panetta has reportedly pushed the Department of Defense to address the problem, including having such reports handled by more senior members of the military.
Marie Brodie, manager for the Marine Corps Community Services Lejeune Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, told Stars and Stripes, “In order to prevent sexual assault we need to tackle this from the leadership.”
Service Women’s Action Network endorsed the Marine Corps’ efforts to alter the trend, but remained critical of the punishments outlined. “It needs to punish perpetrators and leaders who look the other way with jail time and dishonorable discharges,” network executive director Anu Bhagwati told the North County Times. “These people don’t deserve to wear the uniform.”
The recently released documentary Invisible War takes on raising awareness about the problem of sexual assault in the military. “This is a chronic, systemic across-the-board condition that we need to address on a daily basis,” producer Amy Ziering told Raw Story last month.
With earlier reporting by Megan Carpentier.
[Female Marines in training via United States Marine Corps Official Page / Flickr]