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Defense Department Releases Gender Relations Survey

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2008 – Nearly seven percent of active-duty women and two percent of active-duty men surveyed said they have experienced some type of unwanted sexual contact, according to a Defense Department report released today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Rachel Lipari, senior scientist for the Defense Manpower Data Center, answers a question during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., March 14, 2008. Defense Dept. photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Officials released the 2006 gender relations survey today in conjunction with the 2007 report on sexual assault in the military. Both are congressionally mandated reports.

In the survey, conducted in 2006, 70,000 active-duty soldiers were asked about any sexual harassment and assault experiences in the previous year. Twenty-three thousand responded to the survey, said Rachel Lipari, senior scientist, Defense Manpower Data Center.

Overall, 6.8 percent of women responding and 1.8 percent of men indicated experiencing unwanted sexual contact. That number is down from those in 1995, but up from responses in 2002.

Thirty-eight percent of women, and 39 percent of all individuals who reported an assault, placed their most serious offense in the category of unwanted sexual touching. Twenty-one percent of women and 13 percent of men who reported an assault cited rape as their most serious assault.

Officials said they were surprised to find that 40 percent of women and nearly half of the men said their assault occurred in the workplace. About one third of all incidents involved alcohol and or drugs use by either the offender or the victim.

For women, the offenders tend to be almost exclusively a lone male, but men report their offenders are men and women and often involve multiple offenders.

Coworkers are most commonly the offenders for both sexes and more than half of both sexes were stalked and harassed before the assault.

Twenty-one percent of women reported the incident, while 22 percent of men made a report.

“Because there is this component of unwanted sexual touching, people may opt to not go the full reporting route because it is a less egregious crime,” Lipari said.

When asked why they didn’t report the offense, most said they didn’t feel comfortable coming forward. Only a small percentage reported not knowing how to lodge a complaint.

For sexual harassment, the study ranged from crude and offensive behavior, or “locker room talk,” to unwanted sexual attention, or being repeatedly asked for dates, and being sexually coerced, Lipari said.

In the report, 34 percent of women and six percent of men indicated experiencing sexual harassment. The most common behavior reported was the locker room talk, she said. Again, the number was lower than 1995, but higher than 2002 reports.

A high number of servicemembers reported receiving some form of preventive training, with 93 percent of men and women receiving sexual harassment training, and 89 percent receiving sexual assault training. Eighty percent of the respondents said sexual assault and harassment policies were posted in public.

Overall servicemembers feel that the military had a better climate less sexual harassment and assault than in the nation.

Other findings in report include:

-- Women in the Army were more likely than women in the other services to indicate experiencing unwanted sexual contact and harassment, whereas women in the Air Force were less likely.

-- Men in the Air Force were less likely than men in the other services to indicate experiencing unwanted sexual contact.

-- Men in the Navy were more likely than men in the other services to indicate they experienced sexual harassment, whereas men in the Air Force were less likely.

-- Among women, junior enlisted members were more likely than senior enlisted members, junior officers, and senior officers to indicate experiencing unwanted sexual contact and harassment.

-- Among men, junior enlisted members were more likely than men in the other pay grades to indicate experiencing unwanted sexual contact or harassment.

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Related Sites:
DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

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