Army reform announced to protect female soldiers from abuse

NS government agreed to a series of reforms after acknowledging serious failures to protect women in military are from sex ring, bully and discrimination.

The move follows a report by the Commons Defense Committee that speaks to victims of abuse and prejudice and highlights the systemic failures that allow the condition to persist.

One of the key changes being made is that complaints of a sexual nature will be dropped from the control of the chain of command formerly responsible for investigations and denounced by MPs as “a point single failure” in the process. .

But the Department of Defense refused to act on the commission’s recommendation that rape and sexual assault cases should be moved out of military courts into a civilian legal framework. It also refused to limit appeals to convicts to six weeks, and made the decision binding by the military ombudsman.

A Serious Crime Unit headed by a new field marshal will conduct investigations outside the chain of command. The number of women from the military sitting on the court’s ironclad panel on alleged sex offender cases will increase. A new Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Policy will address the issue of military personnel and sex workers and “ensure that the interests of the victims are prioritized.”

In addition to a small number of cases, complaints of bullying, harassment and discrimination will also be moved from the chain of command to a new outsourced investigative service.

The services chief of staff is also committed to looking at effective ways to remove people who are found to have committed sex crimes or have been responsible for inappropriate behavior, but are still in the armed forces. There will be a revised approach to prosecuting sex offenders and a complaints system that provides better anonymity for victims to be established by April 2022.

The Department of Defense (MoD) maintains that it seeks to have women make up 30% of the military by 2030 and has a “six-month sprint” on issues such as women’s health policy, equipment and uniforms to facilitate this.

Reply to report Protecting those who protect us: Women in the armed forces from recruitment to civilian life, the government notes, the document “makes it clear that in too many cases, the defense has failed to give women the experience they deserve. Our women soldiers need to tell their courageous testimonies, we need to hear them, and we will make sure we continue to hear their voices.”

“There will be a comprehensive defense strategy for how rape and serious sex crimes are handled within the Service Justice System, recognizing the importance to our people and to the community. serve the broader range of damages caused by sexual abuse… Retain and develop our women and give them greater confidence that they can thrive, have successful careers in armed forces and without limitation. “

As well as the Defense Committee report, the government’s decisions were shaped by a review conducted in 2019 by Air Force Governor Sir Michael Wigston. The MoD said the investigation into the prevalence of unacceptable behavior by the head of the RAF resulted in 36 recommendations, of which 22 have been delivered and the rest are “current”. is underway”.

Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Women in the Armed Forces, MP Sarah Atherton, said: “The power of feeling on this issue is clear, with more than 4,100 women contributing to our investigation. . Much work remains to be done, but it is clear that enhancing the experience of women in the armed forces is becoming a top priority for the Department of Defense. I would like to thank the secretary of defense, Ben Wallace, for his unwavering commitment to female service members and veterans. “

“Our investigation found that 6 out of 10 women who have experienced abuse do not complain because they fear it will affect their careers or because they think nothing will be done. The fact that a waitress can safely make a sexual complaint knowing that her direct chain of command won’t handle it is a huge step forward. ”

“It is disappointing, however, that the Department of Defense has refused to remove rape cases from court jurisdiction despite clear evidence that the current system is not enforcing,” Ms. Atherton added. Justice.

“The Department of Defense has been moving very actively about the chain of command roles for complaints. This change will make a real difference to the lives of servicewomen and women in the service of the future. ”

Ms Atherton added: “However, it is disappointing that the Department of Defense has refused to remove rape cases from the martial law arm of the courts despite clear evidence that the current system is not working. enforce justice.

“It is clear that the military is a male-dominated institution and so I am pleased that the government has set itself ambitious goals … This ambition is welcome: make sure that the This goal is met, not missed.”

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, said: “While nearly 90% of the women who participated in this survey said they would introduce a career in the armed forces, it is clear that much more needs to be changed. I am grateful to all the women who contributed to the Defense Committee report, which we listened to carefully and are making bold changes in response.

“After testing the recommendations with our own Network for Women of Service, we’re capturing nearly all of them — and in many cases, we’re actually taking them even further. . I look forward to continuing to work with them to count all three services and ensure that we see meaningful progress.” Army reform announced to protect female soldiers from abuse


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