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No tolerance for military sexual assault, says Obama

The US President Barack Obama has said that any kind of activity like this in the military is "anti-patriotic" and will do everything to root this out.

Washington: Emphasizing that sexual assault is an "outrage and a crime", the US President Barack Obama has said that any kind of activity like this in the military is "anti-patriotic" and will do everything to root this out.

"Sexual assault is an outrage; it is a crime. That`s true for society at large. And if it`s happening inside our military, then whoever carries it out is betraying the uniform that they`re wearing. And they may consider themselves patriots, but when you engage in this kind of behaviour that`s not patriotic -- it`s a crime. We have to do everything we can to root this out," Obama told reporters at a White House news conference yesterday.

Obama was responding to a question on the latest report of increase in sexual assaults in the US military, including the report that an Air Force officer in charge of preventing sexual assault has recently been charged in one of such cases.

"One of the things that we`ve been trying to do is create a structure in which we`re starting to get accurate reporting. And up and down the chain, we are seeing a process, a system of accountability and transparency so that we can root this out completely," he said.

Obama said that he had an discussion with the Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, in this regard.

"For those who are in uniform who have experienced sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their Commander-In-Chief that I`ve got their backs. I will support them. We are not going to tolerate this stuff and there will be accountability. If people have engaged in this behaviour, they should be prosecuted," he said.

Incidents like this have disrespected the vast majority of men and women in uniform, who carry out their responsibilities and obligations with honour and dignity and incredible courage every single day, the US President said.

"So I don`t want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way. If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they`ve got to be held accountable -- prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialled, fired, dishonourably discharged," Obama said.


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