Study: Women in 'combat-like' military roles most likely rape victims

Sept. 30, 2013 at 10:34 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Women in the U.S. armed forces are more likely to have experienced sexual harassment or rape if they are in "combat-like" situations, a study found.

The study is based on data collected by the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego from more than 13,000 military women since 2001, Stars and Stripes reported Monday.

Military women were identified in the study as being in "combat-like" situations if they had witnessed death, physical abuse, dead or decomposing bodies, maimed soldiers or civilians, or prisoners of war or refugees.

Female soldiers in those situations reported a 20 percent increase in sexual harassment and a 4 percent increase in sexual assault.

Sexual harassment or assault against military women was lowest in the Air Force and Navy, at 5.8 percent. The Army and Marines were the highest, at 10.3 percent and 13.3 percent, respectively.

The Pentagon says women account for about 200,000 of its 1.4 million active-duty personnel. More than 280,000 women have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

The study can help the military understand "where we can specifically help provide interventions and prevention programs," said Cynthia LeardMann, a co-author of the study.

In offering an explanation for their findings, the authors said, "Women who experience combat while deployed are not only in more stressful and dangerous circumstances but they may also find themselves in more traditionally male-dominated environments compared with other deployed women."

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