Sexual Harassment In The Military

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel informed President Barack Obama of the latest sexual assault allegations against a soldier who was assigned to prevent such crimes. There is a written directive about to be released that will spell out steps aimed at resolving a problem that has outraged the president and lawmakers.

Pentagon officials also are struggling with a growing number of sexual assaults across all branches, with military leaders taking advantage of their positions of authority.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Defense Department estimated last week that as many as 26,000 servicemembers may have been sexually assaulted last year, based on a recent survey.

Of those, fewer than 3,400 reported the incidents, and nearly 800 of those simply sought help and declined to file formal complaints against their alleged attackers. Only about 300 reported incidents led to a trial.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is holding up the nomination of Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, an astronaut who’s tapped to serve as vice commander of the U.S. Space Command, until McCaskill can get more information about Helms’ decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case.

Can it be true that 26,000 sexual assaults occur in the military in one year? With everything else flowing across the president’s desk, this an unwanted and unexpected issue that can’t be swept under a rug in the Oval Office.

The legal definition of sexual harassment is “unwelcome visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.”

Nearly every company has a policy in place to handle sexual harassment. To even suggest that the military doesn’t is unthinkable.

If a complaint is not handled immediately, the individual should consider filing a report with either the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. They will evaluate your complaint.

There are many experts on the prevention of sexual harassment in the state of Hawaii, both in the military and in the public sector, so don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights.

It’s a difficult topic to talk about, but it will make your working environment a safer place for everyone.