Sexual assault in the military: we need to be more like Israel

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[Note: this article was written by Michele Hickford]

At the end of last year, the Department of Defense prepared a 100-plus page Report to the President of the United States on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. I skimmed the whole darn thing. I learned April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the military. Did you know that?

During April, U.S. troops do things like run a 5k on an aircraft carrier.

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And make colorful formations on the deck of amphibious assault ships.


Among its many charts and graphics, the DoD report included this handy chart for “Promoting a Culture of Dignity and Respect.”


For as much time and resource that was clearly put into this report, you would think sexual assault in the military would be at epic proportions, or as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called it, an “epidemic.”

Except it’s not. In fact, it has actually gone down.

What percentage of women in the military do you think is sexually assaulted? Twenty percent? Thirty percent?

Actually, according to the 2014 report, it was 4.3 percent, down from 6.1 percent in 2012.

The Department of Defense report even says the “CDC found rates of sexual assault for military women are no different than rates of sexual assault for women in the civilian sector.”

However, what has gone up dramatically is the number of REPORTS of sexual assaults – not the actual incidences mind you – the reports.

In 2012, there were 3,604 reports of assaults and in 2014 that figure increased 50 percent to 5,518 reports. The Department of Defense sees that as a huge improvement, but if the actual incidences have declined, it could mean many more people are being wrongly accused.

All of this got me thinking about how the U.S. statistics compare to Israel, where women have been serving in the field alongside men since 1973.

In February, Haaretz reported a 10 percent increase in the number of reports of sexual assault in the Israeli military. Interestingly, the number of reports by men nearly doubled, although over 90 percent of the reports came from women.

Haaretz said, “among the incidents, 49 percent were physical forms of sexual harassment and the rest were verbal assaults. Four percent were incidents of rape, while the majority of reported assaults ranged from an unwelcome touch of a foot, for example, or a kiss on the cheek.”

The “unwelcome touch of a foot?”

In any case, the total number of reports of sexual assault on women in the IDF represents just three-tenths of a percent of those serving.

We need to be more like Israel.

I actually have an idea why the incidence of sexual assault in the IDF is so low. It’s called Krav Maga.

Every woman serving in the IDF needs to study this self-defense art. Maybe male Israeli soldiers don’t assault the women with which they serve because they know they’ll get their butts kicked.

It’s just a theory…

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