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One In Four U.S. Service Women Reported Being Sexually Assaulted In War Zones

Female Marines on patrol
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Above: Female Marines on patrol

Nearly one in four U.S. service women say they were sexually assaulted while deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. USA Today reports half of women deployed to war zones say they were sexually harassed while there.

Aired 12/28/12 on KPBS News.

Nearly one in four U.S. service women say they were sexually assaulted while deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The main offenders were fellow service members, according to the surveys. Almost all of the women reported that when they were harassed, it was by someone else in the military - often times within their own unit. A full 47-percent said their harasser held a higher rank than they did.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California told USA Today the study shows women deployed to war zones have no safe haven:

"It comes down to the culture. (It) hasn't changed, no matter what the generals or the secretaries of Defense say about zero tolerance. They have not scrubbed the sexism ... out of the military."

The Pentagon is currently withholding comment on the survey. Nate Galbreath of the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office said that while reports of abuse are of concern, he's waiting until he better understands the way in which the research was conducted before he assesses the study.

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