The U.S Military Academy at West Point, New York, has seen a rise in the number of sexual assaults reported that is nearly double the number of reports received during the previous academic year, according to the Pentagon’s annual report on sexual assaults.
Fifty reports were filed, against the 26 from the previous year. This trend, however, isn’t new, as the previous year had also seen a sharp increase at 55% over the year before that. Overall, between the three military academies, the army, naval, and Air Force, sexual assault cases were up by 30% over the 2016-2017 academic year.
Sexual assault in the US military has long been a massive problem, with service members reporting more than 20,000 allegations of sexual assault at military installations over the past four years.
Sexual violence in the US armed forces is largely under-reported and came under renewed scrutiny last year after a scandal surfaced involving some Marines sharing nude photos of women on the internet.
In a report released in November, the US military’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Office (SAPRO) said 20,300 sexual assault cases have been filed since 2013.
But many victims never report incidents, so the real number is likely far higher, according to a Pentagon report, which also found victims often face retaliation for coming forward.
The new report comes amid an ongoing wave of revelations about sexual harassment in the US, which has toppled a number of powerful men in entertainment, politics, business and the media.
Last month, a group of active and retired US troops gathered in freezing temperatures outside the Defense Department near Washington to protest against sexual harassment.
The protesters expressed support for a proposed legislation in Congress that would make it easier for victims to report sexual misconduct in the US armed forces.
The protesters, most of them women and none in uniform, carried placards that read “Denial is not a policy”, “Stop the retaliation”, and “#MeTooMilitary,” a reference to the social media campaign with the #MeToo hashtag denouncing sexual assault in the workplace.