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The Military Has Failed At Protecting Its Own From Sexual Assault, Yet Again

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This week, an Associated Press investigation revealed that the military misled members of Congress on the success of its prosecution of sexual assault cases—at a time when Congress is considering a bill that would take sexual assault prosecutions out of the military's hands.

While the military argued that it was even more effective at bringing abusers to justice than civilian courts, the investigation found this claim relied on vague or inaccurate data or misrepresented the facts.

Juliette Kayyem, homeland security expert and host of the "Security Mom" podcast, says this latest deception is one more reason to take sexual assault prosecution out of the military chain of command. She believes sexual crimes in the military should not be prosecuted internally, but rather referred to a civilian review board that can determine whether or not a case should go to civilian court.

"If a soldier is drunk on base and crashes the car, I understand why you'd want to handle that within the chain of command. These are very, very different kinds of crimes. They impact the women very differently," said Kayyem.

Kayyem pointed out that the military has consistently failed in protecting its own from sexual assault.

"It's not like the military has a good record to stand on and can say: 'look, we're great at this,'" she said.

"The military is not prosecuting these cases and is not protecting these women," Kayyem continued.

One solution, Kayyem says, lies in promoting more women to top positions in the military brass. She points to the recent promotion of General Lori Graham to the head of Northern Command as a step in the right direction.

"[The promotion] puts her within a pool of only five people who may be able to be the Joint Chiefs," Kayyem said. "If we have a female Joint Chiefs in my lifetime, that is progress."

Juliette Kayyem is the host of the "Security Mom" podcast and is the author of "Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide To Protecting Your Homeland And Your Home." To hear more, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.

WGBH News coverage is a resource provided by member-supported public radio. We can’t do it without you.
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