Ministry of Defence sets target of doubling female recruits by 2030

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The Ministry of Defense (MoD) will aim to more than double its female recruits as part of a series of changes following a report of bullying and harassment of women in the armed services.

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More than 4,000 women gave evidence to the Defense Sub-Committee on Women in the Armed Forces for its landmark investigation, which found that 64% of female veterans and 58% of serving women have experienced bullying, harassment and discrimination (BHD) during their careers. experienced. ,

Responding to the report published on Thursday, the government said the investigation “has made it clear that on several occasions the defense has failed to provide women with the experience they deserve”.

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The MoD unveiled a number of reforms aimed at addressing the issues highlighted in the report, including an ambition to increase female influx to 30% by 2030.

Sarah Atherton chairs the committee (House of Commons / PA) , PA Archive

It also noted that a large number of women surveyed said that their experiences of the complaint system were “extremely poor”, with complaints often being “brushed under the carpet”, with the chain of command being replete with complaints of a sexual nature. will be removed as such.

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Recommendations adopted further include a review of robust methods of weeding out sex offenders and greater independence in the system to deal with BHD complaints.

The MoD, however, said it did not accept the recommendation to shift rape and sexual assault cases from military courts to the civilian system.

According to the sub-committee, the conviction rate in military courts is four to six times lower than in civilian courts.

Sarah Atherton, the chair of the subcommittee and an army veteran, thanked the Defense Ministry for its “thorough” response.

She said: “There is still work to be done, but it is clear that improving the experiences of women in the armed forces is becoming a priority for the Ministry of Defense. I would like to thank the Secretary of State for Defense, Ben Wallace, for his continued commitment to servicewomen and veterans.” I want to thank you for the commitment.

I hope this is the beginning of a new era of accountability for the military

“Our investigation found that six out of ten women who had experienced abuse did not complain for fear of the impact on their careers, or because they thought nothing would be done.

“The fact that a servicewoman can now secure a sexual complaint in the knowledge that her direct chain of command will not handle it is a huge step forward.

“A more robust process has also been put in place to deal with complaints of bullying, harassment and discrimination – although the question remains as to what this means in practice. I hope this marks the beginning of a new era of accountability for the military “

However, he described the Defense Ministry’s decision to reject the recommendation of the sub-committee on military courts as “disappointing”, adding that “there is clear evidence that the current system has failed to deliver justice”.

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