Last year, according to the Service Women’s Action Network, 19,000 sexual assaults were committed in the U.S. military, mostly against women. One-third of women in the military have reported being sexually assaulted, a rate twice as high as civilian women.
It never happened to Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, but she does have a solution to the problem of sexual harassment in the military: more women officers. In an interview today with BuzzFeed, Duckworth was asked about The Invisible War, a new documentary on rape in the military. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: The documentary The Invisible War has a lot of people talking about sexual assault in the military. What's your take on this issue?
A: It is absolutely unacceptable that there is sexual assault in the military. We should remember it occurs not just with female service members but with males as well. It's unacceptable and we need more oversight. I think the military is trying hard, but until you have more female high-ranking officers, you're going to have some issues. I never experienced sexual assault, but I was a pretty tough chick officer, and if anything I was there for lower enlisted females to come to. I wasn't a scared 18 year old who couldn't push back. A lot of this stuff is about power. It's power relationships. The military needs to redouble its efforts, and there should be congressional oversight. And women need to become a bigger percentage of the military — I think as we do, things will get better.
Q: Did other women ever come to you to report assault?
A: I was usually the only woman in an all-male unit, but sometimes we would get women reporting issues of discrimination. But usually I was the only woman so it didn't happen that much.