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Sexual Assault in the United States Military: The Silent Epidemic

Satisfactory Essays
Stephanie Schroeder was twenty one when she joined the United States Marine Corps shortly after the attack on the World Trader Center. In 2002, Schroeder’s life changed when a fellow Marine beat and raped her in a bathroom. Rather than punishing her assailant, a non-commissioned officer told Schroeder, “Don’t come bitching to me because you had sex and changed your mind” (Martin). Shortly after, Schroder was discharged for a personality disorder that she claims was because she tried to report the incident. Unfortunately, Schroeder’s story is not uncommon. Each year, approximately 26,000 service people are sexually assaulted by other service people each year in the United States military (US Commission on Civil Rights). The Tailhook scandal in 1991, in which 90 service people were sexually assaulted by United States Navy and Marine Corps personnel, shed light on the harmful epidemic of sexual assault in the United States military, but it still goes on today, over twenty years later. Congress has created several pieces of legislation to crack down on the staggering amount of sexual assault that has been going on for decades. Some of the proposed solutions to stop this problem are extreme, such as removing women from certain combat roles, and others are helpful but inadequate, like Senator McCaskill’s recently passed bill, which makes smaller changes to the current military system of handling sexual assault. But neither of these solutions will eradicate the epidemic of sexual assault in the United States military. Although 14,000 sexual assault victims in the military are men, and 12,000 are women (US Commission on Civil Rights), women are seen as the primary victims. Because of this, removing women from equal combat roles has bee... ... middle of paper ... ... further legislation. Although McCaskill is noble in her actions, her bill does not go far enough to stop sexual assault in the military. Thanks to courageous women like Stephanie Schroeder and the Tailhook scandal in 1991, sexual assault in the United States military does not carry the same stigma that it once did. Even Congress is “genuinely embarrassed by the extent of sexual assault in the military. It is conduct unbecoming a soldier and also makes recruiting women more difficult” (Rosen). Unfortunately, it is unlikely that sexual assault will be completely stopped. It can, however, decline through laws. Some proposed laws, like reinstating the ban on women in combat roles and Senator McCaskill’s bill, will not effectively shrink the epidemic. But until a proper solution is put into place, sexual assault will continue to permeate the United States military.