News: Camp Lemonnier, CJTF-HOA Conduct SAPR Stand-Down
Story by Staff Sgt. Rachel Waller
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibout - In response to the unacceptable rise in sexual assaults in the military, service members from Camp Lemonnier and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa participated in a sexual assault prevention and response stand-down at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, June 20-22.
“Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trusts,” said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy commencement ceremony recently. “This scourge must be stamped out. We are all accountable and responsible for ensuring that this happens.”
According to the Department of Defense estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact took place in the active force in fiscal year 2012, up 35 percent from 2010. According to the Department of Defense’s 2012 Annual report on sexual assault in the military, of the 26,000 cases, 3,374 were reported sexual assaults.
“This is a joint problem, it affects us all. We’re here today to fix this,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kelly Passmore, 449th Air Expeditionary Group commander.
During the stand-down, service members participated in interactive, small-group discussion and activities and heard key leader messages about sexual assault.
One key message came from the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, in a video clip presented during the SAPR stand-down.
“Make no mistake, sexual assault is a crime. We can and will hold criminals accountable,” said Mabus.
Although the stand-down was DOD-directed, Camp Lemonnier SAPR office staff are taking a proactive approach to educating personnel about sexual harassment and assault using a variety of programs.
“We will have an interactive play that will be coming here in July called ‘No Zebra, No Excuses,’” said Temesia Andrews, Camp Lemonnier’s sexual assault response coordinator. “It is a group of university students who travel to different bases to help address the bystander mentality. People must stand up, quit being bystanders, and help keep others around them safe."
To promote sexual assault awareness within the military, Andrews explained the play will focus on the bystander mentality, by teaching that the issues of sexual violence, stalking, intimate partner violence can no longer be ignored. It's also going to allow audience members to interact by asking questions to the cast members while they are in character.
In addition to the play, the SAPR staff held a self-defense class for women in April and conduct victim advocacy classes periodically. Andrews also briefs new arrivals during indoctrination.
“Also, a lot of directorates invite me to talk to their members,” said Andrews. “I try and get out to peoples’ working and living areas to make sure I get the information out.”
As DOD officials continue to work on a joint-environment SAPR training plan, the SAPR staff will continue to educate the camp’s service members and civilians.
“We know sexual assault will never go away,” said Andrews. “But if we keep putting out prevention and awareness information, we can try and curb it.”