(Washington, D.C.) Yesterday, Congress announced a bipartisan agreement to take initial steps toward long overdue reform in the way the military addresses sexual misconduct through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2022, by taking prosecutorial decision-making for sexual assault, domestic violence, and several other serious crimes out of the chain of command and giving that authority to independent, trained military prosecutors. This reform is the result of decades of advocacy by survivor organizations. It also gained increased traction in the wake of the #MeToo reckoning among the military community and the horrific murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, which spurred a renewed coalescing of survivors and advocacy organizations to demand justice for victims and survivors of military sexual violence. The agreement reflects the tireless leadership of Representative Speier and Senator Gillibrand, who have long fought passionately to reform the military’s response to sexual violence.
The following is a statement by Emily Martin, NWLC Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice:
“Women join the military to honor and defend their country. But, too often, the military has failed to protect them when they experience sexual assault, domestic violence, and other serious crimes. Today marks an important step to address the scourge of military sexual violence by removing much of the decision-making about prosecutions of sexual assault out of the chain of command, and instead entrusting these decisions to independent, fully trained military prosecutors. We owe it to survivors, victims, and their families to ensure that this achievement becomes the foundation for future work to create a more just system for all who serve. To achieve that end, it is essential that Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, which will further ensure the independence and integrity of military justice, is also included in this agreement.”