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Thousands of female troops in UK military face harassment, bullying: report


LONDON - About 64 percent of British female veterans and 58 percent of currently-serving women reported experiencing bullying, harassment and discrimination during their careers, a parliamentary report revealed Sunday.

Published by the House of Commons (lower house of the British Parliament) Defense Sub-Committee on Women in the Armed Forces, the report said there is "truly shocking" evidence of bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape experienced by servicewomen.

At the same time, most of the women who responded to a major survey by the committee said they did not believe the military did enough to address the problems, as six in 10 women did not report the bullying, harassment and discrimination they experienced.

"Of those who did complain, one third rated the experience 'extremely poor'," the report added.

"Unfortunately, the stories we heard paint a difficult picture for women in the military. Accounts of bullying, harassment, discrimination, 'laddish' behavior, and sometimes serious sexual assault and rape. The complaints system, as it stands, is woefully inadequate and leaves most feeling unable to come forward," said military veteran Sarah Atherton who chairs the sub-committee.

She said the committee heard accusations of senior officers sweeping complaints under the rug to protect their own reputations and careers.

"It is clear from this report that more can, and should, be done to protect and provide for servicewomen and female veterans, who have, far too often, been let down by the Ministry of Defence. Where there has been injustice, rectifications must be made. The issue of sexual assault and rape in the military is pressing," said Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defense Committee.