WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A bipartisan group of senators want to attack the issue of sexual assault in the military.
“Sexual assault in the military is an epidemic,” New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand announced the bipartisan bill to change how the military prosecutes serious crimes, like sexual assault.
“We owe it to our service members to do more to prevent these crimes and to properly prosecute them when they occur,” Gillibrand said.
The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act would stop military commanders from being involved in prosecuting service members for sexual assault.
“While misdemeanors and uniquely military crimes stay exactly where they are,” Gillibrand said.
Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst says as someone who served and is a sexual assault survivor, she believes this bill takes the right steps.
“To help ensure survivors are treated with the dignity, the respect, and the justice that they so deserve,” Ernst said.
A Department of Defense study found nearly 21,000 instances of sexual assault in 2018. About 13,000 of those victims were women.
“I felt like the military was doing everything they could to silence me when they did not like what i was saying.” Amy Marsh said.
Marsh is one of those victims. She says this bill could help restore faith in the system.
“So that victims no longer have to suffer in silence for fear of retaliation, but instead feel empowered to speak the truth in their pursuit of justice,” Marsh said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are confident this bill will pass before the end of the year.