A major study commissioned by Congress is casting doubt on the much-hyped estimates of military sexual assault, McClatchy Newspapers reports. “The fact is, there are 26,000 military sexual assaults a year,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), declared last year, using a figure reported in the New York Times and elsewhere. The 26,000 figure is an extrapolation, from a survey, and its weakness as a tool to estimate actual sexual assault is highlighted in the new report from a subcommittee of the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Panel.
The 500-page report cautions that “sources of information about prevalence and incident rates require careful attention before relying on their conclusions to assess the extent of sexual assault, whether among military or civilian populations.” The report says that, “The behavior surveyed ranged from unwanted touching to rape. While intended to capture certain acts prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), this definition does not specifically track any particular criminal conduct.” The report cautions that, “Even though data extrapolated from the (survey) include a wide range non-criminal behavior, the numbers are often misused to represent the number of incidents of criminal sexual assault in the military.” the report cautions.