More shocking evidence of sexual assaults and misogyny in the military.

18th May 2023

Today the Defence Committee published whistle-blower evidence from a team delivering clinical and occupational health care and advice to Service personnel and their Commands, from across the three Armed Services.

It follows on from the vital work of the Defence Committee in its Inquiry into Women in the Armed Forces and its follow-up call for evidence at the end of last year.

The despicable attitudes revealed in this brave whistleblowing evidence are shocking, but they are not surprising. They show how pervasive the problem of misogyny, rape-myths and victim-blaming continues to be within our armed forces.  The CMJ thinks that only way to begin to tackle them is to inject as much independence as possible into these closed military spaces – by sending serious sexual assault allegations to the civilian justice system; and by taking serious sexual harassment complaints away from the services themselves. A Defence Secretary that was truly committed to making the forces a safe place for women would have stopped the forces from marking their own homework years ago and accepted the recommendations that have repeatedly been made to him. But instead all we get is slow, piecemeal limited reforms that don’t go far enough, and the age-old, increasingly insulting line that they have ‘zero tolerance’ for sexual offending.  These accounts show they don’t.

Sharon Hardy, the sister of the late Cpl Anne-Marie Ellement, who took her own life after reporting multiple acts of rape and bullying in the Army, on reading this evidence, said:

’11 years after my sister’s death, it seems nothing has changed. All those promises the Army gave the family – that lessons would be learned and this wouldn’t happen again – were for nothing. Victims are still being blamed for drinking, being denied help after they’ve made the brave decision to report, and the chain of command lacks the training,  expertise and will to be permitted to have anything to do with these cases.  The result is that the forces seem to be becoming a breeding ground for perpetrators. The treatment of women in the armed forces continues to shock and appal me. The system is simply not fit for purpose.’

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