Sunday, July 19, 2015

Chief of the General Staff condemns sexual harassment

See no evil? Army opens its eyes to the problem. 

It’s not just in the United States military that has a problem it seems…the UK has commissioned a survey on levels of sexual harassment in the British Army and the results have not been easy reading.

Chief of the General Staff General Sir Nick Carter described the level of sexual harassment being faced by female soldiers is "totally unacceptable".

In a survey commissioned by the Army, almost 40% of servicewomen said they had received unwanted comments of a sexual nature in the past year. The report, based on a survey of 7,000 soldiers, found 13% of women had had "a particularly upsetting experience". About 3% of those who were very upset made a formal written complaint.

Nearly half did not make a formal complaint because they were concerned about the consequences, such as being labelled a troublemaker and the effect it might have on their career.

Sir Nick said he was "disappointed" by the figures. He told the BBC on 12th July 2015 "They do provide me with a baseline from which I can move forward and change the Army's culture". Sir Nick wanted the Army to be a "modern, inclusive" employer and the change would come from the top down, with the launch of a new code of leadership in September. He also said he would ensure the complaints process was "good and sound", so "all people feel they can complain if it is necessary to complain".

In July 2014, there were 15,780 women serving across the armed forces -- or 10% of the total number of personnel.

The Army-commissioned report found servicewomen were more likely to experience a range of "unwanted, targeted sexualised behaviours" than servicemen, with the exception of being sent sexually explicit material.

Junior soldiers were, in some cases, four times more likely than senior officers to experience the behaviours, the report said, and the most at-risk group was junior-ranking women.

Among the report's findings:
·         39% of women and 22% of men said they had received unwelcome comments about their appearance, body or sexual activities
·         33% of women and 19% of men said someone had made unwelcome attempts to talk to them about sexual matters
·         12% of women and 6% of men said someone had made unwelcome attempts to touch them
·         13% of women said they had had a "particularly upsetting experience"
·         61% said the incidents had occurred in their home base or training unit
·         62% said they had ignored the behaviour; 53% said they avoided the person responsible
·         It also found that 44% of respondents believed sexual harassment was a problem in some parts of the Army, but the majority were positive about how well the Army tried to prevent it and manage it when it did happen.

Service personnel asked for a more effective complaints system and stronger sanctions against those who sexually harassed others.

The report recommended introducing more transparency into the complaints and discipline process, and better training for senior staff.

"The Army may wish to consider introducing training to give individuals the skills, knowledge and confidence to manage unwanted behaviours themselves," it added.

The report found "generalised sexualised behaviours", such as the use of sexual swear words and sexual jokes, was a "common part of workplace culture and the Army is no exception" but the majority of personnel were unlikely to be offended.

Researchers posted 24,000 anonymous surveys to regular and reserve servicemen and women, and more than 7,000 were sent back -- a response rate of 30%. Focus groups were also conducted with 48 randomly-selected non-commissioned officers from different units.


  1. I look forward to the day that this type of survey can be done within the PLA and its results be made public.

  2. At first glance, it is very interesting to see, although they both come to relatively similar conclusions, how different this report is from the "Deschamps report" (Sexual inconduct in Canadian Armed Forces) on two aspects.
    First, methodology seems more robust (Sexual Harassment Report (UK) (full version) at pp 12-16, For example the research received approval from a reasearch ethics committee (para 8.1). Statistical analyses had to be conducted in accordance with national standards (para 9.1). At the end all the questionnaires used and informations provided to service members are included (Annexes A to D).
    Second, it is a report produced by the institution itself without mentionning any author. It suggests from an institutional point of view that was is written here is more important than who wrote it.


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