COLORADO SPRINGS — Dozens of demonstrators gathered at Acacia Park Sunday for a rally in support of an independent investigation into the death of Vanessa Guillén. It was held by the Pikes Peak Women for Liberation, Autonomous Brown Berets of Colorado, and Poetry 719.
Guillén is the 20-year-old soldier who authorities believe was killed by another soldier in April inside of an armory at Fort Hood. Her death prompted protests across the country, calling for changes in how the military handles sexual harassment and assault cases.
"What happened to Vanessa Guillén sadly happens a lot. The fact remains that this is a problem and remains a problem in the military," said Jennifer Yancey.
"Out of 20,000 sexual assaults last year, only 138 reached conviction," said Tiffany Summa.
With so few convictions, organizers say offenders get little to no jail time or consequences for their actions. They say there needs to be a registry for offenders.
"If they go out into the civilian world, there is no record that follows them. That needs to stop," said Summa.
The rally's main goal was to bring awareness to this issue, and call for a third party outside the chain of command to handle sexual harassment and assault cases.
"You can't find justice when you're investigating your friends. If the people who are investigating who hurt Vanessa and who buried her, are a part of the same group. How can we expect to get justice," said Summa.
She says having a third party involved will help protect survivors. With a new bill in Congress aimed to create a third party entity, they want to see additional items added.
"We're hoping for mandatory minimum prison sentences and a registry for offenders, " said Summa.
They also want to see rape kits processed faster because the turnaround is inadequate. They say the bill is a step in the right direction, but there needs to be new training within the military to curb sexual harassment and assault.
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