Washington: Sexual assault of military women while in a war zone is surprisingly common, according to new research by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In a new study, around half of women deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan reported being sexual harassed, and one-quarter said they were sexually assaulted, USA Today reports.
According to the Huffington Post, researchers contacted 1,100 women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and asked them questions about sexual assaults and harassment while deployed.
Among the findings, sexual assaults, including rape, were reported by 22.8 percent of women.
The anonymous surveys also showed that 48.6 percent of women said they had experienced sexual harassment while in a war zone.
Most of the women said the offenders were other service members, and in a little less than half the cases, the offender held a higher rank, the report said.
According to the report, sexual assault in the military has been in the spotlight over the past year.
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has been outspoken about the problem, calling the military`s record on prosecuting assaults an "outrage”.
Last week, the Pentagon released its annual report on sexual harassment and violence at its military academies.
Sexual assaults reported by students at the academies jumped 23 percent in 2012, the third straight year of increases, the report added.