Women in armed forces complaining of sexual abuse told to stop sleeping around

Female armed forces workers say they have been threatened with disciplinary action and warned to stop "sleeping around" in response to reporting sexual abuse.

The damming claims come as new research showed that a mere one in ten rape cases taken to MoD trial ends in conviction

Campaigners are calling for an overhaul of the military justice system as the Royal Navy has been made to investigate the treatment of women employed on Brit nuclear submarines.

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Sophie Brook, 30, shared the shocking normalisation surrounding the alleged misogyny in the Submarine Service.

She told how women were ranked on a “rape list” whilst she worked as a lieutenant.

Admiral Sir Ben Key, the first sea lord, said the abuse accusations were “abhorrent”, reports The Times following its investigation.

It has been reported that in the 12 months to March this year, 68.3% of rape cases examined in civilian courts obtained a conviction.

However, out of the 111 cases taken to court martial from 2016 to 2020, just 12 resulted in a guilty verdict.

One servicewoman, who was forced out of the system, recalled how officers made rape jokes and women were constantly warned about their “conduct” – which is said to mean their sex life.

Another, whose rape case was scrapped by the Royal Military Police, said she was told off for “sleeping around” when she complained.

Emma Norton, founder of legal campaign group Centre for Military Justice, said that military boards were “disproportionately male”.

It has been reported that the government declined the outcomes of two reviews of sexual abuse cases in the armed forces.

The Lyons review suggested that civilian courts should have jurisdiction over severe sexual offences and rape. This was backed by a review conducted by MoD minister Sarah Atherton.

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According to the MoD, the higher conviction rate in civilian courts is because a smaller amount of rape cases are being referred for prosecution.

Ministers say there are not enough cases to come up with conclusions from data.

It has been reported that out of the 61 people alleged of rape between 2016 to 2020 within the armed forces, ten have been dropped.

One ex-servicewoman told The Times that she quit the army after enduring a “vicious, horrifying and life-changing experience” by her junior co-worker.

“I was blamed and accused of sleeping around and told that I would be disciplined myself and that my behaviour would be investigated,” she said.

The woman said the Service Prosecuting Authority scrapped her case. She added that the alleged perpetrator was handed a substantial payout after being discharged on medical grounds.

She claims that she knew three women and a man who had suffered similar ordeals to her, however, she was the only one who reported the case.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We introduced zero tolerance policies to underpin the ability to dismiss anyone who has committed a sexual offence or any other unacceptable sexual behaviour. The Service Justice System has a higher rate of holding those alleged to have committed sexual offences to account through referrals to prosecution than the civilian system.”

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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