The United States Air Force will release a survey in which it states that one in five American women solider have been sexually assaulted since joining the military service.
The survey conducted by Gallup, interviewed 18,834 male and female airmen between July and August 2010 and had a response rate of nearly 19 percent.
Experts say the results, which will be published on the Air Force website will be important for the Air Force and the entire military, as top officials will be forced to acknowledge and confront the scope of the problem for the first time.
Charlene Bradley, an air force assistant deputy for force management integration said: " If we're ever going to get to the point where we know how much progress we're making or not making, our leadership has to find out the extent of the problem," adding that the Air Force leadership was "very concerned" when they reviewed the survey's findings.
She added: "They were concerned before, but they were very concerned when they saw this."
According to the military sexual assault includes a number of things including "sexual contact without consent." Out of the 18.9 percent of the female airmen who reported having been assaulted, 58 percent said that they had been raped and 20 percent said they had been sodomized, which the military defines as nonconsensual oral or anal sex.
It is expected to serve as a new base for tracking the crime. The survey is likely to be conducted every 18 to 24 months, says Bradley.
The survey has brought out that a majority of assaults were against women, nearly 80 percent and the perpetrators are fellow US service members.
Bradley says: "The survey was designed to help the Air Force evaluate its prevention programs to find out "how much progress we're making or not making."
The survey makes it clear that only a small percentage of victims reported the crimes and in order to control this it was important to change this fact.
A majority of those who were victims of unwanted sex said they did not think it was serious enough to report.
Nearly 60 percent of women who were raped said they did not want their superiors to know and 63 percent, said they did not want their fellow airmen to know." Nearly half said that they did not want to cause trouble in their unit, The Christian Science Monitor reports.
To overcome this problem, the Air Force is making large scale efforts on a bystander training program as the findings suggest that many victims of assault do tell a friend or fellow airmen, whether they officially report the crime or not.
Bradley said that the Air Force has full-time trained sexual assault response coordinators (SARCs), at every base, as well as volunteer victim advocates.
David Lisak, sexual assault specialist and clinical psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, Boston said that the Air Force is also focusing on better training for military lawyers who in many cases have little experience compared to the specialized civilian sexual-assault defense lawyers that many alleged perpetrators hire.