The Defence Sub-Committee on Women in the Armed Forces has published its report ‘Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life‘.

The results of the report are, quite frankly, sobering.

“In the Committee’s survey, 64 percent of female veterans and 58 percent of currently-serving women reported experiencing BHD during their careers. The MoD’s representative statistics show that BHD and sexual harassment are gendered. The inquiry heard truly shocking evidence of the bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape experienced by servicewomen. At the same time, the majority of our survey respondents do not believe the military does enough to address BHD, even if things are better than they once were.”

Read ‘Protecting those who protect us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life’ by clicking here.

According to a statement from the commitee:

“The inquiry is one of the most important in the Committee’s history, with the Sub-Committee receiving an almost unprecedented level of engagement. Around one in ten female personnel currently serving in the Regulars contributed to the inquiry. It is also the first of its kind, with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) lifting the usual restrictions that prevent service personnel from contributing to inquiries.

The report finds that the MoD and Services are failing to protect female personnel and to help servicewomen achieve their full potential. Whilst most servicewomen and female veterans we consulted (nearly 90 percent of respondents to our survey) would recommend the Armed Forces as a career, more than 3,000 (around 84 percent) reported that female service personnel face additional challenges relative to their male counterparts.”

Chair of the Sub-Committee on Women in the Armed Forces and female veteran, Sarah Atherton MP, said:

“Women are integral to our military’s success and our country’s security, yet women in the Armed Forces carry additional burdens to that of their male colleagues. Women face barriers to promotion, issues with families and childcare, abuse and inappropriate behaviours, and an overrepresentation in the Service Complaints system. Female veterans face distinctive challenges when transitioning into civilian life and have specific needs, different to male veterans, that cannot be dealt with by broad-brush, one-size-fits-all veterans’ services. Unfortunately, the stories we heard paint a difficult picture for women in the military. Accounts of bullying, harassment, discrimination, ‘laddish’ behaviour, and sometimes serious sexual assault and rape. The Complaints system, as it stands, is woefully inadequate and leaves most feeling unable to come forward. We also heard accusations of senior officers sweeping complaints under the rug to protect their own reputations and careers. While many commanding officers want to do the right thing, it is clear that, too often, female service personnel are being let down by the chain of command.

“Sexual assault and rape are amongst the most serious offences committed against female service personnel and discussed in this report. It is difficult not to be moved by the stories of trauma, both emotional and physical, suffered by women at the hands of their colleagues. A woman raped in the military often then has to live and work with the accused perpetrator, with fears that speaking out would damage her career prospects. Our recommendations attempt to mitigate this and ask the Ministry of Defence to tackle the issue of criminal behaviour head on. From our evidence, it is clear to us that serious sexual offenses should not be tried in the Court Martial system. It cannot be right that conviction rates in military courts are four to six times lower than in civilian courts. Military women are being denied justice. I am delighted that the Ministry of Defence now acknowledges the serious issue of rape and sexual assault in the military. There is no doubt the recent written statement is in direct response to our inquiry and I hope that the Ministry of Defence will demonstrate ambition and act on the recommendations in this report. It is incumbent on all of us, to work together, to achieve better outcomes for servicewomen.”

Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said:

“The importance of the contribution that servicewomen make to the military, and to the country as a whole, cannot be overstated. It is clear from this report that more can, and should, be done to protect and provide for servicewomen and female veterans, who have, far too often, been let down by the Ministry of Defence. Where there has been injustice, rectifications must be made.

The issue of sexual assault and rape in the military is pressing. It is somewhat disconcerting that, in its recent statement, the Ministry of Defence seems selective in the data it uses. Our Sub-Committee has conducted in-depth research, over several months, on the issue of sexual assault and rape, and has an accurate and honest understanding of the problems women face. This is not a race to the bottom or a matter of saving face. We should place the issue itself at the heart of our work. I would like to thank Sarah and the team, who have done a fantastic job of leading this Sub-Committee.”

You can read the full thing here.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
54 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rob
Rob
1 month ago

May also signal that a still predominantly male organisation (nothing wrong with that) who necessarily has a warrior culture, after all that is what armies are for, still has a real problem with sexual behaviour by a minority of ‘lads’ which needs to be addressed through careful training & education.

I bet you CGS is taking this very seriously and so he should.

dan
dan
1 month ago

If a female goes through the exact same physical, mental, ect standards a male does then I have no problem at all with females in the military or specific unit. If some criteria(s) are lowered in anyway then that creates a lot of resentment in the ranks. On the other hand if some dude is harassing a female then punish him or kick him out. Simple.

Last edited 1 month ago by dan
Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

Dan, thats two different issues you raise.

Regarding the first, (women in the forces – and ‘standards’) that is very old news that has had its day. The debate happened – over several decades – gender-free or gender-fair assessment is in. Women can serve in every role/job/CEG as far as I am aware.

Regarding the second – a male soldier does not rape a female because he is miffed that she is allowed a bit of a longer time to do a BFT.

Something Different
Something Different
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

What has entry criteria got to do with this article? Women should be treated equally so shouldn’t be subject to this kind of behaviour, simple.

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

One in ten women serving responded. I think that speaks volumes. Don’t get me wrong. In my opinion rape should be dealt with on a level with manslaughter. It is an awful crime. But sexual harassment. What does that mean? According to a civilian equivalent published about a year ago it includes being whistled at, being called names, being touched and I mean anywhere, even the shoulder as I discovered myself. Well. welcome to the world. I have a cousin who served as a WREN who thinks it was better in her day (?) and my God daughter who is… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

Yes, its a bit disappointing that rape and serious sexual assault has been wrapped up with bullying etc. I doubt there is anyone in any walk of life who who hasn’t felt they’ve been picked on/bullied etc at some point in their career. The serious stuff should be dealt with by the civilian courts, they’re the experts and if there is a greater incidence of this happening in the Forces then that’s worrying and something that should be rectified. For the bullying and harassment stuff I’d love to see a Forces Federation that is outwith the Divisional system, that would… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Not a bad idea at all Andy. Having spent twenty plus years as a councillor, school chair and so on the thing that worries me most about the PC and WOKE attitudes and endless reports is that the serious offences are being lost under a morass of trivia. I would rather stop one bully or thug but all complaint should be taken seriously if it’s only to reassure the people involved that they are not being ignored.

Something Different
Something Different
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

These are serving military personnel, and are probably a very robust cohort. Instead of dismissing what they’re saying perhaps take into account that a number of them have been made to feel uncomfortable or a lot worse. People shouldn’t be whistled at and certainly not touched without consent, it’s not a hard concept.

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

If you honestly believe that anybody is going to stop a bloke whistling at a girl or a girl OR MAN being chatted up or either sex being touched you must live in a strange place. My own small story I mentioned. I was in an office fulfilling a contract. The female marketing director asked as I was leaving a female assistant to hard copy an email. I reached out and touched her arm to get her attention to ask for another copy. She rounded on me and in full view of six or seven other members of staff, said… Read more »

Something Different
Something Different
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

I don’t understand the problem here, don’t touch someone without consent, you couldn’t have spoken to her to get her attention? Perhaps unwittingly you’ve done that to lots of other people who said nothing but felt uncomfortable and this colleague was the first to say something? Look accidents or misinterpretations of situations happen (did you know this person well to know their boundaries?) but your lack of contrition sucks. I also can’t imagine why anyone would whistle at someone like some sleazy guy from the 70s, don’t do it ever. Maybe it’s a generation or social intelligence thing, I don’t… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

I actually did say excuse me at the same time but she was hurrying so I just instinctively reached out. I’m sorry SD. We obviously have very different views as to what is really important
As for my lack of contrition you have no idea about who I am or what I’ve done in my life so your amazing arrogance needs to be moderated or is calling people names politically correct providing you’re the one whose doing it.

Something Different
Something Different
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

You didn’t seem apologetic for your unconsensual interaction with that person (based on your accounts) that therefore leads me to conclude you lacked contrition for the events of the situation you described. You have now provided wider context for the incident (the instinctive reaching out to get her attention) which you did not before and perhaps could be a mitigating factor (although in general I would advise anyone that they should respect people’s physical boundaries). However, I haven’t called you any names nor made wider commentary on your life’s achievements. I have merely written about certain behaviours that I, and… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

I think we’re done here.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

George is getting it this morning. First RN/RM is wrong and then he’s a Woke Moron.
I’m the last to support the Woke brigade but come on.

AV
AV
1 month ago

This one didnt stay up as long though lol…

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  George Allison

Quite.

But it still makes for an awful read.

Thank you for putting it up so the dinosaur mentality can be exposed.

Personally I think serving people need to be given space to get on with the job that they signed up to do and that means free of bullying and harassment of all kinds.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago

A noble approach SB but in pretty much all walks of life a pipe dream. Sorry for the ‘negative waves’ but you might as well give every one a million quid while you’re at it.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Well you do have to have a target of excellence to work towards….

Fortunately a lot of dinosaur behaviours are now, rightly, unacceptable

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago

Agree that we should at least try and eradicate the worst of it but accept that getting rid totally is probably impossible.

Agree on the dinosaurs too, I’ve worked with some pretty odious guys over the years and while society is changing it doesn’t change as one. That’s people for you eh ?

Something Different
Something Different
1 month ago

I agree mate. How is it woke to expose such an awful environment so many women are exposed to. Some of what has been reported amounts to serious crimes. The culture is disgusting and so are those who support it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Something Different
yes.
yes.
1 month ago

that is literally what “woke” means in its original sense. the issue is the way the term has come to essentially mean “literally anything i don’t like”…

BobA
BobA
1 month ago

As a former infantry officer, who married a serving female and who has three daughters, I think Brian that your assessment is way off. There is a silent majority of women in the forces who have had a miserable experience because of the culture that has persisted. Being able to exist in your place of work free from discrimination, harassment or otherwise is not having a ‘strong opinion or interest’ it is being rational. I didn’t see anything in the report of anyone asking for special treatment, just equal treatment. Why should people have to walk into the cookhouse and… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  BobA

BobA, in what way was Brian’s assessment way off. I didn’t think he made an assessment, just praised George for writing the article.

Or were you commenting on Rob’s comment?

BobA
BobA
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

His original post has been deleted Graham.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  George Allison

Ok you too get a room the rest of us are getting nauseous !  😁 

IKnowNothing
IKnowNothing
1 month ago

It won’t only be women in the armed forces who will have experienced serious sexual violence. There will be a (probably small but definitely non-zero) group of men who have also had such experiences.

This report was focussed on women’s experiences, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But it does pay to remember that this issue is not 100% gender specific.

For those men that do have such experiences, military culture might make it even more difficult for them to speak up unfortunately.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago
Reply to  IKnowNothing

Is that really true? I think we need some evidence, even if it is anecdotal. I never heard of femaale personnel using sexual violence on men in my 34 years (1975-2009), unless thinks have changed in the last 12 years.

IKnowNothing
IKnowNothing
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I didn’t suggest that women are the perpetrators of sexual violence, though actually in society in general there is believed to be some under-reporting of female sexual violence and abuse since people don’t believe it ever happens, so don’t speak up when it does as freely as they might do in the event of male sexual violence. Nevertheless, the vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence in society are male. I was suggesting that there may (almost certainly will) be male victims of male sexual violence in the armed forces. I would also stress that in no way am I… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Unfortunately it absolutely is true, although the perpetrators are generally men as well. While I acknowledge that this is not a report from the British army, I would say that the US military is not an unreasonable comparison to our own in terms of professionalism and suchlike. I would say that, if it’s happening in the US military, it’s happening in our own.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6183775/

Last edited 1 month ago by Joe16
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Interestingly only the other week a female sailor has been kicked out of RN for sexually assaulting 3 male colleagues on a cold weather exercise in Norway whilst pished and then assaulted a senior officer to boot.

unsurprisingly she avoided the jail wee bit of community service. Equality it seems only flows one way

im telling you Fifers are wired up differently 🙈 HMS Neptune must be some party ship😜

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🇬🇧

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago

A mate sent me a couple links about that lassie, at the risk of outing myself as an old fashioned type, she must have hit every branch on the way down if all 3 lads politely declined her advances.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9795643/Drunk-female-Royal-Navy-sailor-31-sexually-assaulted-three-male-colleagues-dismissed.html

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

I must confess I’ve seen a lot worse she looked from her pic pretty average to the point I’m sure the victims would have been wearing beer Goggles with at least a X4 magnification setting so she must have been a pretty vile individual personality wise.

but hey man who knows

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🇬🇧

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Must of been a Californiian Redwood there’s a he’ll of a lot of branches and great height at that

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

 😯   😂 

They all need luvin’ though.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

I KNOW BEING EX Navy a gallows humour is I’m afraid that’s how we coped with loss , but we knew where to draw the Line The SIB Regulator’s in Civvies Dealt adequately with Said offenders Male or Female ,its just into today’s PC orientated Front line personal are very wary of how to act without offending , Our attitude in days gone by was the notion “if your offended by our Actions ,please tell us so we can use it again at a later date” .Nothing was said or done with pure venom or hatred

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

I know what you mean mate, most guys are pretty decent and don’t want to genuinely offend but you’ve probably seen it yourself, sometimes a guy is getting it tight for doing something daft (his turn in the chair) and someone will walk into the mess who wasn’t involved and jump on the bandwagon, totally revelling in it. There are dicks everywhere and some do take it too far, this is where the more mature members need to sort things and in my experience this usually happened. I’m sure there was plenty nasty stuff still went on when people thought… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

We probably all fell for some stupid prank like falling asleep in the mess Square after a few sherbets and someone pouring room temperature water round their flyes then waking them up and all the lads would call them Swampy but in all my years in the Andrew I never witnessed anything vindictive , a quick word round the back gultch would normally suffice.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago

It is not simply an armed services problem. Training that de-motivates is I suspect common. Yet, in a service like the military one must aim to build people regardless of gender as resilient and self motivated. That is not a gender issue. It is cultural and institutional problem when it does not achieve required outcomes. However, women do see things differently and in certain contexts that has much to commend it and has serious military utility. Their service is important. The Israelis have lots of women serving as conscripts. Why not go and see how they manage matters?

Last edited 1 month ago by Barry Larking
Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

Israel is a complicated case. Chief rabbis have opposed the conscription of women and exemption for religious reasons is enshrined in law.( This also applies to make members of certain ultra orthodox sects). For a long time, women served almost wholly in support roles but that started to change about 20 years ago. There are now several mixed gender combat units and I think one all female one.
Although trained for combat, women are not included in the deployment of combat brigades. They may of course, given the nature of the threats Israel faces, engage in internal security operations.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

Thank you. Many Israelis are actually rather secular – that is not very observant. An Israeli friend went further in his opinion of the Orthodox, who do now have to serve. But no matter. Women are trained and certainly are capable of fulfilling critical roles in the military. Few men meet the tests for elite units as I am sure you know. However, one of the last R.U.C. officers to be seriously wounded on plain clothes duty was shot by an undercover British Army female in a blue-on-blue incident when she was cornered as she thought by two heavies. I… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Barry Larking
Tom Keane
Tom Keane
1 month ago

Having served many years ago, with a son serving in todays forces , I have been witness to some bullying that would no doubt result in criminal proceedings in this day and age. In todays world, I have heard of all manner of bullying between recruits, and then after being posted to whichever units people signed up for. I never came across male on female bullying, as female’s in the military were rarer back then. Back then as now, Senior Officers are not overly aware, nor care about bullying, as it is something more Junior Officers and Senior NCO’s should… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

Iknow a lot of contributors are ex service reading the article I was thinking about ‘Hazing’ whether that’s a similar issue that needs attention or not.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

A few things here. Firstly my top comment looks out of place because the comment above it has been changed. Secondly we need to get real about this. Any organisation which is made up of predominantly young single people is going to have issues with sex and sexuality. What matters is how it is managed and that is a matter for the brass and their Sgt Majors to sort out. Thirdly. We shouldn’t hide what is going on just because we love our army and are patriotic. I’ve seen, admittedly years ago, initiation / hazing behaviour which was pretty damn… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

The late Sir John Keegan, the noted military historian, pointed out research had shown that today’s tight knit combat units are particularly vulnerable if even one member is suffering from a lack of self esteem produced by long term abuse. It isn’t sentimental, its vital military discipline and effectiveness damaged before contact.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

“Secondly we need to get real about this. Any organisation which is made up of predominantly young single people is going to have issues with sex and sexuality. What matters is how it is managed and that is a matter for the brass and their Sgt Majors to sort out.” This is a massive and massively underestimated part of the problem. It might be easy to put a rule in place to say there should be ‘no touching’ but its a bit like a parent who knows their kid is having sex to get all holy about it and say… Read more »

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago

The headline could have read” nearly 90% of respondents to our survey would recommend the armed forces as a career”. If the whole culture is so toxic, that seems an unlikely response. Of course, serious incidents should be fully investigated and dealt with but bullying is often a matter of perception. Military training, especially of those in close combat roles, is necessarily tough. Most civilians subjected to it would probably see it as bullying.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago

Not something I have to admit I come across much as predominantly all male organisations and units/sub units, but this report must have an element of perceived truth to it from the respondents. Certainly in the early days of my career I have seen (haven’t we all) actions and initiations which 20 years later viewed with more modern and experienced eyes are blatant bullying and drunken aggression which is totally destructive and in no way productive. Any sort of sexual violence and efforts at making a female soldier/sailor/air woman uncomfortable and pressured is wrong, and goes totally against the values… Read more »

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

Really well said Airborne. Being a truly professional soldier, sailor or airman means you know how to not get involved in this stuff.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

This reads like a very sad and destructive failure of Leadership. The Army has some great principles, but if none of the leaders from the very top to the most junior leader are not totally focused on promoting that culture and principles and instead normalise destructive behaviours then your organisation and ability for it to be well led gets degrades.

George Parker
George Parker
1 month ago

Looks like the days of the army brothel trucks are long gone. Replaced by soya milk, vegan menus and wokeness training sessions.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

most the men do as well, considering a wren just got sacked for indecent behavior on ship.

its a world of BUTTERCUPS