Chambliss: 'Hormones' a factor in military sex assault

US military commanders assemble for a congressional hearing on recent sexual assault cases in Washington DC, 4 June 2013

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A US Republican senator has been criticised for telling a congressional hearing military sex assault is partly down to "hormone levels".

Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss made the remark at a panel on the issue, attended by military top brass.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, called on him to apologise.

It comes after a wave of sex assault cases and Pentagon data showing a rise in cases, from groping to rape.

"The young folks that are coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23," Sen Chambliss told military commanders at Tuesday's hearing.

"Gee whiz, that's the level, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So we've got to be very careful in how we address it on our side."

'Not about sex'

The senator added: "But guys, we're not doing our job. You're not doing yours and we're not doing ours with the rates that we are seeing on sexual assaults."

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This is not just absurd - it is outrageous”

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Senator Claire McCaskill, who has previously worked as a prosecutor on sex crimes, told the hearing "this isn't about sex".

"My years of experience in this area tell me they are committing crimes of domination and violence," the Missouri Democrat said.

After the hearing, Ms Wasserman Schultz took aim at Sen Chambliss.

"I think he should think about whether if, God forbid, a sexual assault happens to a daughter of his, would he think it's OK for a senator to just chalk the assault up to raging hormones," she told the MSNBC news channel.

Sen Chambliss' remarks came as other members of the Senate armed services committee expressed concern over the situation.

Senator John McCain said he could not "overstate my disgust and disappointment" over reports of sexual misconduct.

The Senate armed services committee is currently examining seven legislative proposals aimed at curbing the problem of sexual assault in the military.

One plan, put forward by New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, calls for external special prosecutors to deal with military sexual assault cases, instead of continuing to let military commanders oversee the investigations.

But military commanders told Tuesday's hearing this would not be the right approach.

Senator Kay Hagan says no service person should have to fear assault

Some military leaders support a proposal from Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel that would stop commanders from overturning a military sexual assault verdict.

In recent weeks two military officers charged with curbing sexual assault in their ranks have been arrested for alleged abuse or harassment.

The Air Force has also been hit with allegations from dozens of female and male recruits that they were sexually harassed or raped by their instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Meanwhile, a Pentagon report released in May said 26,000 military personnel may have been sexually assaulted in 2012.

It said the number of reported incidents rose 6% to 3,374 in 2012, but that thousands more victims were unwilling to come forward.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Unfortunately we humans are animals and our biology is really driven by hormones. Rape is a crime because humans should be able to control how they deal with hormones. Perhaps there is some underlying issue with what the military is asked to do related to battle as they are also committing suicide etc in droves as well. Sounds like a biology study is needed to uncover the root causes

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Hormones? Lust for power? Could be. But the small minority of men, that succumb to these, either don't not know right from wrong, or don't care. Throw the book at them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Am I missing something here? The senator said partly. How about snippet then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    This discussion can be summed up by Sen. Gillibrand's quote:

    "Some commanders can't distinguish between a slap on the ass and rape."

    The culture in the military needs to change so that rape victims aren't treated like pariahs while their rapists receive a slap on the wrist for committing a violent crime.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The power/domination argument has other support: other articles say the number of male-on-male sexual assaults is actually higher than men-on-women (though percentages are small due to the larger enrollment of men).

    If its a sex crime, then these are all caused by violent homosexuals. A more likely argument is that the rapes are a form of dominance, violence and humiliation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Strangely enough, I managed to get through my hormonal teenage years without sexually assaulting anyone. So did everyone I know. Perhaps its different in the social circles in which Senator Chambliss moves where sexual assault is seen as just the boys letting off a bit of steam.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Of course it has to be a Republican senator to make such a remark. Whatever happened to self-discipline and self-control in the armed forces? Don't they teach them anything?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Nothing is going to change until the US military loses its authority to investigate and prosecute sex crimes. We need a change in culture and that means an new sheriff. We need civilian prosecutors, serious ball busters, in the US. Abroad, lets turn them over to the locals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    A very unwise comment - but not exactly removed from the truth.

    A significant number of sexual assualts ARE about domination / power & agression rather than pure sexual desire.

    When you combine military training and peak levels of testosterone, you ARE going to find more issues surrounding ALL forms of assault than from a person in their mid forties working as a shopkeeper.

    Not PC, but logical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I apologize in advance for screaming, AHH!! With this kind of ignorant thinking is it any wonder that these assaults continue to occur? Senator Chambliss you are an embarrassment to say the least. Your comments are an insult to every thinking person, especially to men young and old who seem to be able to manage their "raging hormones" without resorting to rape and assault.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Having such backward thinking politicians is what is destroying our countries. This fool is living in the past and needs to be put out to pasture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Yeah, I believe that is an unfortunate choice of words.

    And an unfortunate conclusion.

    Rape isn't about sex. I mean, it is, but if it were just about sex, then they would just be hitting the bars...

    It needs to addressed and dealt with. Unfortunately, as we integrate women more and more into the military, we'll probably be seeing more of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Ohio university head quits after 'Hormones' a factor in catholic assault.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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