GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Sexual harassment and assault incidents are serious crimes that negatively affect mission readiness and are punishable under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. According to the Department of Defense Annual Report, there were 1,695 reported incidents of sexual assault or sexual harassment within the Army during fiscal year 2011.

Within the U.S. Army in Europe, there were 133 reported incidents, which was a 33 percent decrease from the previous year. Of those reports, 100 were unrestricted reports while 33 were restricted.

A restricted report is one in which the victim does not pursue legal action against the accused. An unrestricted report involves an investigation, which could result in the punishment of the assailant.

Through the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP program, the Army aims to eradicate sexual harassment and sexual assault by providing awareness and prevention training, victim advocacy, a comprehensive reporting structure, and a system of accountability.

Initiated in 2008 as the combination of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) and Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) training, the SHARP Program works to empower victims to step forward and report sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents, while simultaneously encouraging bystanders to intervene and prevent sexual assault incidents from occurring.

"SHARP Program has been positive as the propensity to report incidents has increased," said Sgt. 1st Class Yolanda King, the SHARP coordinator for Bavaria and Franconia.

She attributes the increased reporting to growing trust in unit leadership and SHARP support services.

The SHARP Helpline, for example, provides one-on-one, confidential support from a certified sexual assault response coordinator, who deploys a specified victim advocate to assist in reporting, care and recovery. Soldiers, civilians and family members can contact the 24-hour helpline at DSN 314-475-4567 (CIV 09641-83-4567) for immediate SHARP support.

Since sexual harassment and assault affects the entire community, all community members are invited to take part in National Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities, said King.

The JMTC and USAG Grafenwoehr host several events to raise public awareness, and provide education to prevent future sexual assaults. The scheduled events for this year's Sexual Assault Awareness Month include Operation Clothesline, a candlelight vigil, an information drive, and a 5K run/walk.

-- April 3: "The Invisible War," a documentary about rape/sexual assault in U.S. military, which includes a collection of stories of military sexual trauma survivors, interviews with high ranking military officials and members of Congress. The film will be shown April 3 at 9 a.m. at the Grafenwoehr Tower Theater; All DA civilians are required to attend one showing.

-- April 3: Take Back the Night, a candlelight march starting at 7:30 p.m. Bldg. 131 in front of the JMTC flagpole

-- April 15: Information Drive at the Grafenwoehr Exchange, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

-- April 20: Sexual Assault Awareness Month 5K Run/Walk, from 9-11 a.m. at the Grafenwoehr Physical Fitness Center.

Page last updated Mon April 1st, 2013 at 08:27