Nonconsensual Sex Crimes and the UCMJ: A Proposal for Reform
JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL'S SCHOOL CHARLOTTESVILLE VA
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With the exception of one minor change,2 the rape statute used by the military services in the twenty-first century is almost identical to the various common law statutes used to prosecute military members during the American Revolutionary War. The common law definition of rape was the unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman forcibly and against her will or consent. Today, Article 120a Uniform Code of Military Justice UCMJ, reads, Any person subject to this chapter who commits an act of sexual intercourse by force and without consent, is guilty of rape.5 The only difference between the common law definition and the current statute is that under the UCMJ, rape is gender neutral. While the definition of rape in the military remains virtually unchanged, the military has experienced significant changes. One of the most important changes is the increased number of women serving throughout the armed forces. Prior to 1967, federal law limited the percentage of women in the military to two-percent of the total force. After Congress eliminated the two-percent ceiling, the number of women increased to approximately fifteen percent. The increase in the number of women in the Armed Forces results in men and women working together in the unique military environment. The analysis of the Military Rules of Evidence states, Military life requires that large numbers of young men and women live and work together in close quarters that are often highly isolated. The deterrence of sexual offenses in such circumstances is critical to military efficiency.
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