Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, the only Republican freshman, attended a bipartisan meeting with White House senior advisers to join in a discussion regarding legislation aiming to reduce sexual violence in the military, including the bill she sponsored on whistle-blower protections for sexual assault victims in the military.
“I dropped this bill last week with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez because I believe that we have the finest military in the world, but the military is going to have to be accountable for what’s happening with this issue of sex abuse, and so our bill is a very commonsense bill and it’s one that has received a lot of bipartisan support. We have quite a few cosponsors on this bill already,” said Walorski.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Walorski said it was a privilege to join her colleagues and discuss methods to encourage reporting sexual assault in the military and how future cases can be prevented.
Walorski teamed up with Sanchez and introduced a bipartisan bill providing whistle-blower protections for survivors of military sexual violence. The bill provides that victims of sexual crimes are protected from punishment for reporting the assaults and strengthens existing protection laws, and Walorski said there are two main goals involved with this bill.
“One, so that that report is validated and that victim receives assistance and the perpetrator is caught and then obviously punished, but two, so that we eradicate this issue from the military and we start getting to the bottom of it by actually providing zones of safety where there’s no repudiation, there’s no retaliation, and we provide a safe environment for our men and women to work in,” said Walorski.
Throughout the course of fiscal year 2011, the Department of Defense estimated there to be roughly 19,000 victims of sexual violence in the military – a frightening statistic made even more so by the fact that only 2,723 service members filed a report of sexual assault. The department also found that victims tend not to come forward because of fear of retaliation and the negative impact the report could have on their career.