Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Military


Sexual abuse in the American army is associated with such a phenomenon known as hazing. Hazing is prohibited by the Ministry of Defense and the law. Hazing in the US Army in some cases is associated with various ritual ceremonies after completing a preparatory course of a fighter or special schools. Some argue that these are relatively harmless and fun traditions that help build a single partnership. However, others claim that rituals can quickly move into situations where people can experience physical and psychological trauma. In some instances of initiation, soldiers may interpret them as sexual assault. The commanders of some units decide not to consider cases of bullying as sexual assault.

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The issue of Sexual harassment

Furthermore, the constant monitoring of social networks in the US Marine Corps allowed recognizing the harassment prevalence in the comment sections. “Sexist” comments are especially common in groups of marines in social networks. The marines are extremely negatively disposed towards the presence of female soldiers in their combat formations. Because of the sexist sentiment that prevails among male military personnel, women serving in the ranks of the marines are potentially more likely to become targets of sexual violence. In the Marine Corps, the most dominant soldiers demonstrate the so-called “aggressive hypermasculinity” behavioral pattern (Harris et al. 27).

Among sociologists, there is an opinion that the military is active or passive, but attracts people into the army with such an aggressive psychological profile. Individual risk factors for sexual violence in the military include alcohol and drug use, lack of empathy, general aggressiveness and recognition of the permissibility of violence, sexual fantasies of violence, preference for impersonal sex and sexual risk tolerance, hostility towards women, adherence to traditional norms of a gender role, hypermasculinity and suicidal behavior.

In addition, the risk factors associated with interpersonal relationships and social risk factors are also important. Sexual violence in the US military is directly correlated with the consumption of alcohol by military personnel. The measures for countering sexual abuse in the US gender army should be designed. The US military justice system is embodied in a military criminal law code called the Uniform Military Justice Code (UCMJ), which is implemented through military courts. Martial criminal law in the United States is determined by the Congress and by its definition, such a criminal act as “sexual violence” was introduced into the Unified Code of Military Justice of the United States (Raj et al. 4).

The UCMJ included criminal articles for crimes involving sexual violence while serving in the US Armed Forces. These rules apply to military cadets, midshipmen, and reservists who are temporarily called up for military service or military training. It should be noted here that cases of sexual violence within the families of active servicemen are proceeding along a different line – the Family Protection Program of the Ministry of Defense.

Preventative measures of leaders

There were substantial harassment issues with LGBT in the army, and these problems were known for decades. In 1993, a ban on lesbian, gay, and bisexual service in the US Army was introduced. However, if LGBT people did not make themselves felt, that is, they hid their gender identity, then their service was allowed. But on September 20, 2011, the former US President Barack Obama removed all obstacles and allowed gays and lesbians to openly serve in the army.

However, on July 1, 2017, the new US President Donald Trump canceled permission for transgender people to serve in the US military (Raj et al. 3). The decision was made after consultation with the generals and military experts.

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Today, the American army has about 15% of women in its ranks, and these are about 200 thousand women soldiers. However, the gender component is present in the US Army not without known problems. In 1996, a scandal at the Aberdeen proving ground on the subject of sexual violence led the army to charge sexual abuse of female trainees to nine sergeants, one officer, and one general (Thomas et al. 5).

Thus, more attention to the phenomenon of sexual violence in the ranks of the army in the United States drew attention more than two decades ago. In February 2004, the Senate Subcommittee held hearings on policies and programs for the prevention and response to incidents of sexual violence in the armed forces (Thomas et al. 3). Senators were particularly concerned about the numerous instances of sexual violence against female military personnel.

Since 2002, internal service standards in the army require commanders to submit to the top a report on incidents of sexual violence in their units for eight days. The supervisor has the right to check the results of the investigation and decide on the settlement of the case: whether to submit the case for trial, dismiss the charge without further action, or take other measures, for example, “impartial punishment”, or dismissal from service, or other disciplinary punishments (Thomas et al. 7). If the investigation does not provide sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges of sexual assault, or the research is forced to be terminated, for example, because the victim refused to participate in the investigation or after the limitation period, the case is closed.

Every year, the US Department of Defense allocates significant resources to solve the problem – to monitor sexual violence in the ranks of the US Army, to train military personnel, and improve the organizational culture of the army.

Preventive efforts by the Ministry of Defense are aimed at reducing the number of sexual assaults involving military personnel. According to the Ministry of Defense, in 2016, 95% of the military personnel – women and men, took special classes on topics related to sexual violence that occurred in the previous year in the armed forces. As a preventive measure in 2018, the US Congress banned the recruitment of individuals who had previously been convicted of crimes involving rape or sexual harassment (Harris et al. 39). All these preventative measures are effective steps towards the improvement of the situation.


In conclusion, sexual abuse in the US Military Justice Code is defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by the use of force, the use of threats, intimidation, or violence of power, or when the victim cannot resist or cannot agree to have sexual contact.

The consequences of military sexual abuse are defined as “military sexual injury.” Since sexual harassment may be associated with risk factors for sexual violence, the fight against them is considered part of the effort against sexual abuse. However, within the current rules of the Ministry of Defense, complaints of sexual harassment are dealt with in a different direction than cases of sexual violence. Sexual harassment is considered a form of gender discrimination and falls under the current equal opportunity policy, which is implemented within the Ministry of Defense.

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Works Cited

Harris, Richard J., et al. “Sexual Harassment in the Military: Individual Experiences, Demographics, and Organizational Contexts.Armed Forces & Society, vol. 44. 2018, pp. 25–43. Web.

Raj, Anita, et al. “Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Sexual Harassment in the United States, 2018.Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 1, no. 1. 2019, pp. 1-5. Web.

Thomas, Connie L., et al. “Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Physical Activity Among U.S. Military Service Members in the Millennium Cohort Study.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 1, no. 1. 2019, pp. 2-7. Web.

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