WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) announced that the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, a bill that she has strongly supported, passed the House floor on a wide, bipartisan basis.
The bipartisan legislation enhances whistleblower protections for service members who are victims of sexual violence and strengthens existing protections to clarify that victims of sexual crimes are protected from punishment for reporting instances of sexual assault.
“It is absolutely unconscionable that so many of our brave service members are victims of sexual assault, yet don’t report these crimes for fear of being punished or ostracized,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “That is why I am so pleased this bipartisan bill overwhelmingly passed the House today. It will help ensure that victims of sexual violence have the protections they need to come forward and report these crimes and help bring an end to the culture of tolerance around sexual assaults in our military.”
According to the Department of Defense (DOD), there were an estimated 19,000 victims of sexual violence in the military during fiscal year 2011. However, only 2,723 service members filed a report of sexual assault. The DOD also found that victims often don’t come forward because they worry about retaliation or fear that reporting a fellow service member may negatively impact their career.
Bustos has also joined the bipartisan Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus in order to better work with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put an end to sexual assaults in the military.