Almost every woman serving in the Royal Navy, Army and RAF has
experienced or witnessed sexual harassment or sexist behaviour,
according to a Ministry of Defence survey that again raises questions
about the culture of Britain's armed forces.
most disturbing cases include 266 allegations of sexual assault and
303 examples of women being offered promotion or better treatment in
return for sex. Nearly all of the 9,384 service women who took part in
the survey said the sexist behaviour, harassment or assault had taken
place in the past 12 months.
than half of the service women described the experience they reported
as being "offensive" while one in seven said it was "particularly
findings follow allegations of bullying and intimidation at the
Deepcut army barracks in Surrey where four young recruits died in
mysterious circumstances. An investigation found "clear evidence of
foul abuse" at the barracks in Deepcut.
research into sexual harassment in the armed forces revealed that
jokes, stories, language and material offensive to women were
widespread across the Army, the Navy and the Royal Air Force.
Browne, the Secretary of State for Defence, admitted yesterday that
there were "serious issues" that needed to be addressed and said he
would confront the problem by calling for a culture change led from
Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, said: "It
is clear from the research we have conducted that we have a problem
which we must deal urgently with. This is not about political
correctness, it is about operational effectiveness."
proportion, 14.5 per cent, of the reports of sexist behaviour or
harassment were made against senior male officers while a similar
proportion of the victims were senior female officers.
half the respondents (35) who had made a formal complaint were
dissatisfied with the length of time it took to resolve. 46 per cent
(33) were dissatisfied with the way they were kept informed and 42 per
cent (30) were dissatisfied with the way the outcome was explained.
More than half (39) of those who made a formal complaint stated that
there had been negative consequences as a result of doing so and 64
per cent (46) were considering leaving the services.
asked about effective measures to prevent sexual harassment, 86 per
cent (8,082) supported penalties for perpetrators and 74 per cent
supported penalties for leaders who knowingly allowed sexual
harassment to continue.
tackled yesterday about the disciplinary record of the armed forces,
neither Mr Browne nor Sir Jock was able to say how many servicemen had
been disciplined over the issue.
year the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) suspended a formal
investigation into the problem of sexual harassment in the armed
forces after the MoD agreed to tackle the problem. Yesterday's report
and the creation of a new action plan is part of the MoD's response.
Watson, chair of the EOC said: "We hope to ensure that this commitment
translates into real improvements for the men and women who do such a
vital job for our country."