U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono from Hawaii has re-introduced a bill with 29 senators to change how the military prosecutes sexual assault.

“The Military Justice Improvement Act would put the decision to pursue these serious crimes in the hands of trained and professional military prosecutors, and ensure that survivors of sexual assault are not victimized again when they report military crimes,” Hirono said in a press release.

Hirono’s press release Friday comes two days after U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke out about the need for a pilot program for prosecuting sexual assaults.

Gabbard spoke in support of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act at an Armed Services Committee meeting Wednesday.

The Senate measure would allow more serious charges including but not limited to rape to be handled by judges who are outside the military chain of command. The idea is to give certain cases to judges with criminal justice expertise who can make independent decisions.

The number of female military service members who were sexually assaulted jumped 50% between 2016 and 2018 but fewer cases are going to trial, according to data from the Department of Defense cited by Hirono.

Will you help us?

There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, investigative journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?

About the Author