A federal district court judge ruled yesterday that the military has been too slow to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for its sexual violence data. 

There are an estimated 19,000 reports (PDF) of sexual assault in the military each year — a number that is rapidly rising — and both the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are seeking more information on the problem, arguing that the only way to begin to solve it is to know all the facts. 
 
In a press release, the ACLU outlined one of the military’s reasons for not responding, and U.S. District Court Judge Mark R. Kravitz’s reaction: In one example, the Army Crime Records Center claimed it couldn’t provide records about “sexual assault” because its records are organized by specific criminal offenses, not under the generic heading of “sexual assault.” 
 
“’Sexual assault’ is easily read as encompassing rape and other non-consensual sexual crimes defined in the Army’s offense codes,” Kravitz wrote in his order.“The fact that the agency was unwilling to read the Plaintiffs’ request liberally to include such terms seems to be almost willful blindness.”

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