Did you know that two-thirds of women in the U.K military report harassment and bullying?
A recent report revealed the horrifying state of the servicewomen in the British Army. Here’s all you need to know about it.
Making it into the prestigious military service of your country is a proud moment for any soldier. More so for a female one as their struggles and responsibilities are two-fold. But a shocking parliamentary report titled Protecting those who protect us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life recently revealed that nearly two-thirds of the women in the UK military have experienced bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination during their careers. It also stated that the military is “failing to protect” its female recruits.
(Photo: Tim Graham/Alamy)
The defense subcommittee said that 62% of the 4106 veterans and current female military personnel who testified had either witnessed or received “unacceptable behavior.” This behavior included gang rapes, sex for promotion or advancement, and trophies or contests to “bag the women” on camp or on ships. The military accommodation and mess were labeled as “places of danger” for servicewomen. Many were bullied for refusing sexual advances and were too afraid to report it with their career at stake. They had no faith in the system and thus refrained from reporting the incidents. Women often face a “hostile environment,” if they try to file a complaint against bullying and harassment. Elaborating on this, an 30-year army veteran, Diane Allen, told the MPs, “I think it’s a very large problem in the current service, and I do believe women are being coerced to withdraw stories, to change their evidence, and to generally be almost gaslighted to withdraw a story and not take it forward.”
Around one in 10 women gave the testimony, which accounted for around 700 comments about the “mess hall culture” and sexualized behavior. 11% of the women revealed having faced sexual harassment in the past 12 months in comparison to the less than 1%. Sarah Atherton, chair of the subcommittee on women in the armed forces, said: “The stories we heard paint a difficult picture for women. A woman raped in the military often has to live and work with the accused perpetrator, with fears that speaking out would damage her career,” as reported by The Guardian.
(Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
The report advocated the removal of the chain of command from the complaint system dealing with cases of sexual harassment in the service with a new authority. It also urged the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to transfer cases of rape and assault from the military justice system to the civilian court system. The conviction rate for offenses like rape was almost twice in the regular courts 34% from the years 2015–2020, in comparison to the 16% in the military courts. The court-martial system is denying justice to the female soldiers through their judgments against them. Clearly, their methods and bias are preventing the committee from giving out the right judgment.
The military is considered an epitome of respect and discipline, but the parliamentary report tells a completely different story. It brought to light the horrifying picture of the British Army that has been unknown to the public for years now. The female soldiers are harassed and forced to remain silent, which only promotes such unacceptable behavior. Now, as the real state of the military is revealed, we hope the MoD and the government will do a better job at protecting the servicewomen and ensuring that their voices don’t go unheard.
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