Based on the survey, there were an estimated 20,500 instances of unwanted sexual contact – an increase over the 14,900 estimated in the last biennial survey in 2016. Unwanted sexual contact ranges from groping to rape.
More than 85% of victims knew their assailant. Alcohol was involved in 62% of the total assaults. Shanahan said in a statement Thursday he had reviewed the latest data and “it is clear that sexual assault and sexual harassment are persistent challenges.”
Shanahan said ways to address the problem include: seeking a stand-alone military crime of sexual harassment, developing new tools to measure the problem, launching a program to catch serial offenders, improving assessments of the character of military applicants, training for junior officers and junior enlisted leaders and focusing on prevention.
The Pentagon is set to release the recommendations of a task force formed at the urging of Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., to deal with sexual assaults in the military. McSally, a retired Air Force officer and fighter pilot, revealed during an Armed Services Committee meeting in March that she had been raped by a superior officer.
The #MeToo movement has swept through industry after industry since it went viral last October, toppling high-profile individuals by exposing their sexual misconduct.