Air Force Removes Questionable Sexual Assault Brochure
Officials at South Carolina’s Shaw Air Force Base have pulled a brochure after criticisms surfaced regarding the brochure’s questionable advice for sexual assault victims—particularly a section which suggests that victims should sometimes submit rather than resist an assault.
In May, New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D) communicated her objections regarding the brochure, and on Tuesday released a copy of a letter of response from the Pentagon. In the letter, acting undersecretary of defense Jessica Wright expressed the Pentagon’s agreement about the contents of the brochure, which, alongside common-sense recommendations for avoiding sexual assault, includes suggestions such as “if you are attacked, it may be advisable to submit than to resist. You have to make this decision based on circumstances. Be especially careful if the attacker has a weapon.”
“We share your concerns over some of the materials presented, and the Air Force has withdrawn the brochure from circulation,” Wright wrote. Reviewing existing sexual assault prevention materials such as the brochure from Shaw Air Force Base is one step the Air Force has taken in addressing the issue of sexual assault within the organization.
“No service member wearing the uniform of the Untied States military should ever be told ‘it may be advisable to submit than to resist’ in the case of a sexual assault,” said Slaughter in a statement to the press.
Concern over the brochure comes during a time when the Armed Forces have seen increasing numbers of sexual assaults. Pentagon estimates have put the number of military members that were assaulted last year to approximately 26,000, many of which go unreported even in the face of efforts to curb the epidemic.
However, the Air Force’s decision to remove the brochure may be a positive step toward improving the situation regarding assault in the military. “I am cautiously optimistic about the Pentagon’s agreement to review all sexual assault prevention materials,” Slaughter stated. “We have to change the military culture of we want to stop this epidemic of sexual assault, and this response is a step in the right direction and a small victory for victims.”