The Department of Defense announced today that its Task Force on Care for Victims of Sexual Assaults has completed its review of the Departments policy, programs and effectiveness to provide the best possible care to victims of sexual assault. The report was completed on April 30, 2004, and delivered to the Secretary of Defense for review and consideration.
The task force analyzed sexual assault incidence and demographic data; assessed current DoD-wide, service-wide and combatant command-wide sexual assault policies and programs; performed literature reviews; and visited 21 military locations at home and abroad.
We focused on the critical factors that need to be addressed in dealing with sexual assault, Task Force Director Ellen P. Embrey said. Our goal was to be honest in our approach and open-minded about opportunities to make a difference. In the course of our review, we sought to understand culture, command structures and resources.
The Task Forces 35 findings, broadly characterized, indicate that: DoD policies and standards focus on sexual harassment, not sexual assault; the military services policies lack integration for effective prevention and response; commanders lack guidance, resources and emphasis on prevention and response; victim response capabilities lack sufficient resources and uniform guidance; and efforts to hold offenders accountable are not apparent due to Privacy Act concerns.
The Task Forces nine recommendations are divided into three categories actions to be taken immediately, in the near-term and in the long-term.Immediate actionsinclude establishing a single point of accountability for addressing sexual assault matters and developing strategic courses of action on critical, unresolved issues. Actions in the near term include developing DoD policies for prevention, reporting, response, and accountability and developing an integrated strategy for sexual assault data collection. For longer-term and sustained action, the Task Force recommended establishing institutional sexual assault program evaluation and oversight mechanisms.
For more information on the task force report click http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2004/d20040513SATFReport.pdf. The slides from the briefing are also available at; http://www.defenselink.mil/news/May2004/d20040513SAslides.pdf.