In this episode of HJ Talks about Abuse podcast, Alan Collins and Feleena Grosvenor discuss the report of the Defence Sub-Committee on Women in the Armed Forces (“the Committee”) titled “Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life”.
The Committee’s survey is the first of its kind due to the Ministry of Defence lifting usual restrictions that are in place which stops service personnel from contributing to such inquiries.
The report states that the UK military is “failing to protect” female recruits and has failed to help servicewomen achieve their full potential. Key findings included:
- 64% of female veterans, and 58% of currently serving women in the armed forces have experienced bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination;
- 62% of those who gave testimony had either witnessed or received “unacceptable behaviour”;
- 6 in 10 women did not report the bullying, harassment and discrimination; and
- 1 in 3 women who did report the bullying, harassment and discrimination stated that the experience was “extremely poor”.
The Committee made recommendations including that the Ministry of Defence should create a specialised Defence Authority to handle complaints. The Service Complaints Ombudsman also required better resources and its decisions be authorised to be binding.
A further recommendation was that the Ministry of Defence should completely remove cases of rape and sexual assault from military courts and the Service Justice System. Instead, they should be dealt with by the civilian court system. Therefore, the “chain of command” would be removed entirely from complaints of a sexual nature.
We hope that the Ministry of Defence will take this landmark report seriously and make the appropriate changes, as soon as possible, to improve the life of women in the armed forces.