Human Rights Watch Says the Military Must Protect Rape Victims From Retaliation

A reported released Thursday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the Pentagon is not doing enough to protect victims of rape in the military from retaliation.

The military published data in May that revealed there were more than 6,000 reported sexual assaults during 2015, although activists and advocacy groups say that number is likely much higher, with many cases going unreported.

The recent HRW report titled "Booted" tells the stories of those who survived rape and sexual assault in the military, yet were wrongfully discharged and left without recourse after reporting their cases.

Juliet Simmons, who was drugged and raped in her U.S. Air Force barracks in August 2007, shared her shocking story in "Booted." After she reported her rape to a sergeant, she said she continued to do her job, passed required tests, and excelled in her performance evaluations.

But one day she was sent for a meeting with an Air Force mental health provider and was then told she was being honorably discharged for a "Personality Disorder not specified." She tried to reenter the military but could not due to the nature of her discharge. Her story may mirror the cases of many survivors of sexual abuse throughout the military.

According to HRW, between 2001 and 2010, more than 31,000 veterans were discharged on grounds of personality disorder. The organization says a disproportionate number of those discharged were women.

The issue of rapes and sexual assault being silenced in the military is not new. In 2012, the Emmy award-winning documentary "The Invisible War" chronicled the stories of several survivors.

Learn more about women in the military by watching MAKERS' documentary, "MAKERS: Women in War."

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