Sexual harassment of women within the British armed forces

Shocking revealed by a recent survey conducted by the British army, 4 in 10 women serving in the military have admitted that in the last year they have become victims of sexual harassment. It has become apparent that the women fear that after reporting the incidents they will be disbelieved and their careers suffer terribly.

Out of the 7000 servicewomen who took part in the survey just under half (44%) shared the opinion that the army had a problem with sexual harassment. Also brought to light in the survey is that 33% of the women have being spoke to inappropriately about sexual matters and 12% have had unsolicited attempts to touch them.

Only 3% of the women have made a formal report of the incidents, some of which taking place within their training units and military grounds. Between 2011 and 2013, 75 allegations of rape and 150 allegations of sexual assault were made to the military police, reported by the Daily Telegraph.

These highly concerning results have being described as ‘totally unacceptable” by the Army chief general Sir Nick Carter.

One woman’s entry read:

“I was touched without permission whilst on guard at night in Iraq, with a loaded weapon. In my report I wrote that I had considered using my rifle should the male have gone any further [I] was reprimanded for this.”

Another woman said:

‘One of my sergeants when I was deployed like to grab at me…..my butt, my thighs, or accidentally ‘touch’ my breasts. I reported it to higher, like I was told. I expected a change. I expected something to be done….I was alienated. Most of my fellow soldiers would not talk to me anymore; not my groping sergeant, me! The other females he was touching refused to come forward after they saw how I was treated. No one wants to be around the ‘tattle tale’.

Sadly, the results from this survey integrate the findings from a 2013 business in the community report. They 2013 results showed that 23% of women in the workplace had experienced similar encounters as the women in the recent military survey, both experiencing sexual harassment. These finding have shown that such incidents take place in many different working environments.

It would appear to us at Michael Lewin Solicitors that sexual harassment of women in the workplace is an ongoing issue that needs to be significantly addressed by employers. In numerous claims Michael Lewin Solicitors have successfully represented many victims of sexual harassment within the workplace, both within the armed forces and the more general working community at large.

In my opinion the overwhelming fear for women who have suffered sexual harassment is that they will be ostracised if they report the matter. As can be seen from some of the reports above this certainly can happen.

It is important that women who are subjected to sexual harassment should a keep a detailed record of what has happened and when so that they can rely to this ‘diary of events’ in future. It is important that matters are raised with the respective line manager to ensure that they are investigated. The use of grievances procedures is also important.

If you are not achieving an appropriate outcome then it may be advisable to involve a firm of Solicitors with experience in claims of this nature.

Michael Lewin Solicitors are specialists in claims of sexual harassment in the workplace within the workplace having recovered thousands in compensation both against the ministry of defence and numerous other employers in claims of this nature.

Fortunately it would appear that gradually there is a change in culture, not just in the British military but in the military worldwide. Lieutenant General David Morrision, former chief of the Australian Army, made a rousing speech regarding unacceptable behaviour within the Australian military in 2013 which went viral. It is however time for the senior personnel within the British military to also take a similar stand against Sexual Harassment in the military.

If you believe that you would benefit from legal advice on this matter or believe that you have a claim against your employer, please call us 0844 499 9302 or e-mail stress@michaellewin.co.uk

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