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Rape and the Military

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Rape and the Military

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Rape and the Military

Majority of Sexual Assaults Remain Unreported in Armed Services

Rape and the Military

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Former Army Pfc. Susan Upchurch

When former Army Pfc. Susan Upchurch told a female sergeant she was raped by another soldier, she was told not to report the crime. Upchurch reported it anyway. Specialist Alexandro Jones was eventually convicted for the crime and sentenced to 15 years. Marisa Penaloza, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marisa Penaloza, NPR
Former National Guard Staff Sgt. Sharon Mixon

In June 1991, former National Guard Staff Sgt. Sharon Mixon was gang-raped by six soldiers. She was told by a military policeman, "That's what you get for being a woman in a war zone." Mixon decided not to report the assault to her commander. Marisa Penaloza hide caption

toggle caption Marisa Penaloza

Prisoner abuse in Iraq isn't the only explosive issue before the Department of Defense. More than 100 women have returned from war duty in the Middle East and Afghanistan and reported being sexually assaulted by male soldiers.

Late last month, a task force completed a report on the military's response to the problem; the results have not been released yet. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told a Senate committee in February that the Army was addressing the issue "aggressively," adding: "It's a chain of command issue, it's a leadership issue, it's a discipline issue."

Despite the Pentagon's assertion that sexual violence has been cut in half in recent years, some female soldiers and rape counselors say the problem remains acute. In a Veterans Affairs survey published last year, three-fourths of the female respondents who said they were raped said they did not report the incident to a ranking officer.

NPR's John Burnett reports on the issue, and talks with former Army Pfc. Susan Upchurch and former National Guard Staff Sgt. Sharon Mixon about the message they received from the military after they were raped.

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