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Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Afghanistan

Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Afghanistan
Photos by: Sgt. Ashley Bell
Regional Command (South) Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – National Sexual Assault Awareness Month
(SAAM) is observed every April not only among civilians but also in the military. This
year at Kandahar Airfield, the month is kicked off with a 5k run/walk in support of
SAAM.

“I was actually shocked seeing the turnout,” said Senior Airmen Kevin Buettner, a unit
victim advocate in the Air Force. “We had approximately 520 people sign up and over
400 people showed up to run.”

Sgt. 1st Class Mark Millare, an equal opportunity advisor and a sexual harassment and
assault prevention officer for the Third Infantry Division, said Sexual Assault Awareness
Month is about driving cultural change and awareness in our army, the Department of
Defense and even the nation.

“It is an opportunity for everyone to continue and renew the fight against sexual
assaults,” said Millare. “Bottom line, everyone needs to be aware of this problem and
everyone can help prevent this crime. An active bystander is the first step to changing
the culture.”

The goal of the program is to raise awareness and promote the prevention of sexual
violence through special events and educational awareness. Several events have been
scheduled throughout the month of April in observance of SAAM.

Millare wanted service members and civilians to know and understand that sexual
assaults are preventable.

“Most of the sexual assaults begin as sexual harassment and if we can intervene at this
stage, we can succeed,” said Millare. “It will give victims the confidence to report it and
avoid tolerating it as a military necessity. It will also send a signal to the perpetrators that
these actions are wrong, against policy and will not be tolerated; hopefully it will prevent
this individual to continue to do wrong.”

The military services received a total of 3,192 reports of sexual assault during fiscal year
2011. This represents a one percent increase since fiscal year 2010, when there were
3,158 reports of sexual assault.

By Voice of After The War