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More sexual assault victims in the military appear willing to come forward as a Pentagon study found that reports increased 50 percent in 2013.
According to Reuters, officials say that they see it as an encouraging sign that victims believe their assaults will be handled properly, rather than covered up.
The annual report noted, "The department assesses the unprecedented increase in reports received in FY 13 (Fiscal Year 2013) as consistent with a growing level of confidence in the DoD (Department of Defense) response system."
In the 2013 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, there were 5,061 reports, which is a 50 percent increase over the 3,374 sexual assault reports received in 2012.
While officials are happy, critics have made it clear they are worried about the annual report being handed over to a different company for 2014, reports The New York Times. Before the report was released, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to the DoD that she was worried about accurately comparing reports year to year.
The new company could possibly define unwanted sexual contact differently, which could "make it impossible to determine whether the data accurately reflects the impact of the policies and procedures instituted by the Armed Forces."
The Associated Press, who first obtained the report, notes that though reports have increased, numbers for male victims who have come forward are still quite low. About 14 percent of reports were made by men and officials have said they will be investigating ways to get those numbers to improve.