Jul 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Report: Nearly two-thirds of women in U.K. military endure bullying, sexual abuse

Female commander of a Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank during a training exercise

Female commander of a Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank during a training exercise on July 3, 2020, in Salisbury, England. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

Almost two-thirds of women in the U.K. military have experienced bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination during their careers, according to a parliamentary report released on Sunday.

The big picture: The U.K. defense subcommittee shared its findings after conducting interviews with roughly 4,200 women, amounting to nine percent of the regular female military population.

  • Of those women who were interviewed for the report, 62% said they had experienced some form of harassment or discrimination while serving.
  • The report suggested that a central authority be established to provide a system to report offenses outside of the chain of command.
  • "The Complaints system, as it stands, is woefully inadequate and leaves most feeling unable to come forward," said Sarah Atherton, chair of the subcommittee on women in the Armed Forces.

Details: The report found "serious" problems with the military's handling of sexual assault and harassment.

  • Several women testified that they were bullied for refusing sexual advances and witnessed sexual assaults but were "too afraid to report it."
  • The report also found that the military failed to protect and help women achieve their "full potential."

What they're saying: “Unfortunately, the stories we heard paint a difficult picture for women in the military," Atherton said in a statement.

  • "Sexual assault and rape are amongst the most serious offences committed against female service personnel and discussed in this report. It is difficult not to be moved by the stories of trauma, both emotional and physical, suffered by women at the hands of their colleagues," she added.
  • "I am extremely grateful to those women who came forward. Your voices have been heard."
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