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Military plans survey on compliance with sexual harassment, assault policies

Sailors from Commander, Navy Forces Korea watch the acting troupe InterACT during a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training scenario. Photo by Abraham Essenmacher/U.S. Navy
Sailors from Commander, Navy Forces Korea watch the acting troupe InterACT during a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training scenario. Photo by Abraham Essenmacher/U.S. Navy

April 1 (UPI) -- Every command in the military will immediately conduct a survey to assess compliance with Sexual Assault and Harassment prevention policies.

A Navy press release issued Thursday announced that every commend, both active and reserve, will conduct a Defense Organizational Climate Survey to identify high-risk installations.

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The deadline to complete the survey is April 30 for active-duty commands and May 30 for the reserve.

The survey coincides with the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, which the Department of Defense is observing with the theme "Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission," said a separate press release from the service.

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"Commands should never tolerate sexual harassment, assault, or retaliatory behavior. Victims need to have confidence in the system and know they can report these behaviors because perpetrators are held accountable for their actions," Rear Adm. Putnam H. Browne, director of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor Office, said in the release.

The Navy is encouraging sailors and civilian employees to report sexual harassment and assault and to connect victims with needed care and support -- and challenge inappropriate comments and behaviors directed towards their shipmates.

The service is also publicizing its resources for survivors, which include networks Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocates and Unit SAPR VAs as well as the 24-hour Department of Defense Safe Helpline.

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At the end of February the DoD announced that it would form a 90-day commission to address sexual assault.

That week Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo saying sexual assault and harassment "remain persistent and corrosive problems across the Total Force" and that while some progress has been made, "the effort is far short of what is required to make lasting change."

Austin also plans to establish a violence prevention workforce and conduct evaluations at high-risk installations, the Navy said.

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In April 2020, the Pentagon's Congressionally-mandated report on sexual assault said assaults in the military had grown by 3% in the previous year.

A January 2020 report noted that assaults at military academies had risen sharply in the previous year.

In February of this year. the Government Accountability Office issued a report saying the DoD lacks a clear standard for what types of harassment and assault incidents need to be reported to its central database, and that assaults of civilian employees were not meaningfully tracked by the armed services.

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