Report: More Than Half of Women Serving in UK Armed Forces Face Harassment, Bullying, and Sex Abuse
© AP Photo / Vadim GhirdaA Romanian female soldier adjusts her helmet before taking part in weapons training with US Marines female counterparts at the Capu Midia Surface to Air Firing Range, on the Black Sea coast in Romania, Monday, March 20, 2017
© AP Photo / Vadim Ghirda
According to newly presented data, six in ten women did not report harassment they had faced.
The Commons' Defence Committee - which is appointed by the House of Commons to examine policy of the Ministry of Defence - said on 24 July that nearly 58 percent of women serving in the British military reported suffering bullying, harassment, or discrimination (BHD).
According to the report, named Women in the Armed Forces: from Recruitment to Civilian Life, most of the female personnel said in a survey that BHD was often based on their gender - but sexuality, race, religion, and some other characteristics also motivated harassment and abuse.
31 March, 07:07 GMT
The report, which is based on the testimonies of female personnel in the regular forces, also uncovered a failure by the Ministry of Defence to properly investigate the incidents and even get women the right size of uniforms and equipment, as around 77 percent of the respondents disagreed that the uniform was appropriate for their needs.
"Servicewomen were more likely to report personally experiencing most types of ‘targeted’ sexual behaviour,93 including unwelcome comments about their appearance, body or sexual activities (34% of women versus 21% men), being touched in a way that made them uncomfortable (13% versus 3%), being sexually touched without consent (7% versus 3%), sexual assault (2% versus 1%) and rape (1%versus 0%)", the report read.
The Defence Committee called on the Ministry of Defence to take the following actions in response to the matter: remove complaints of a sexual nature from the chain of command and allow female personnel to present such cases in civilian courts; amend the Armed Forces Bill 2021 to retain the 6-week time limit for complaint appeals; establish a central Defence Authority to provide a reporting and investigation system for BHD; recognise "military sexual trauma", etc.
The committee also urged the ministry to consider female-specific needs in health policies and publish greater data on the pathway for victims of rape and sexual assault.