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Stop unwanted sexual attention

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There is one cheap and easy way to fight the Army’s problem with sexual harassment.

Channel 4 News released an exclusive story recently which it said was based on a high level restricted British Army document it had seen.

A document which listed ‘a damning series of army failings on sexual harassment, bullying, and trust in its service complaints system’.

The ‘restricted document’ is a letter written on 25 October 2012 by a Major General John Lorimer to the Adjutant General Lieutenant General Gerry Berragan, head of military personnel.

It outlines a summary of Major General John Lorimer’s views on equality and diversity (E&D) in the Army after speaking to 6,000 army personnel.

And on sexual harassment, Major General Lorimer said that “every female officer or OR [other rank] that my Comd Sgt Maj has spoken to claims to have been the subject of unwanted sexual attention”.

That was 400 women, say Channel 4. It was also 100 per cent of the women spoken to.

“This,” the Major General wrote, “is an unacceptable situation and one you might consider to be a future area of pan-Army focus.”

And I thank him for saying it.

An interesting point for the ‘woman love it really’ prats, is that it was likely that those women were, within the parameters of military recruitment choice, a variety of shapes, sizes, hair colour, eye colour, make-up use, background, sexual mores…

So not just the butch, wallflower, mousey haired – tick as appropriate – for your ‘only some women complain and that’s because’ – add as appropriate to whichever crap you believe.

Unwanted sexual attention is disgusting behaviour that affects a human being’s health and happiness.

This letter Channel 4 acquired comes one year after the death of Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, a 30-year-old Royal Military Police (RMP) officer who hanged herself at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshire, after accusing two colleagues of raping her and having been bullied by members of her regiment for making the allegation.

The Royal Military Police’s Special Investigations Branch investigated the allegation – of two RMP officers raping an RMP officer – but no charges were brought.

The Corporal’s sister’s lawyer, Emma Norton, points out, that the witnesses were also RMP, and the judge was military. There is something fundamentally wrong with that, Ms Norton said, when speaking to Channel 4’s man.

Back to this letter.

‘Every female officer or other rank that had been spoken to claims to have been the subject of unwanted sexual attention’.

That’s shocking. Or sick. Or both.

And that’s even before you get on to the bullying and the racism in a national institution that has been looking after officers and other ranks for several centuries now.

Surely they must know how people behave in groups and must by now have worked out how to stop people in groups behaving badly.

So either they haven’t cared or their standards have slipped.

I have just finished reading The Junior Officers’ Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars, written by former Army officer Patrick Hennessey, who served in Afghanistan.

In view of this ‘exclusive’ with Channel 4, I think it worth remarking that he talks of magazines such as Nuts and FHM – he names them specifically – being available to serving soldiers on duty in foreign countries.

And equally, if not more shockingly, were we to talk about corruption of minds and misrepresentation of what women are and do in the UK, these soldiers’ copies of magazines that misrepresent women to British men were, Hennessey writes, accessible to the Afghan men serving alongside British forces.

It is not unreasonable to presume they are available to all men of all nationalities who British troops work alongside, by, with or near.

Wonderful. Spread the word: women are sex objects.

Which is something I think should be looked into.

I suggest that changing soldiers’ goofing matter – sorry, reading material – would be a very good place to start rectifying this ‘unacceptable situation’ in the British army.

  1. I find this appalling. Radio 1 are going to do a joint thing with the Army radio in Afghanistan in the next few weeks. A female DJ from the army station came in to speak to one of the male R1 DJs earlier this week to give him some advice on what to expect.

    Obviously the whole segment was very light-hearted. She’d packed a bag for him with some useful items, the first to be announced were magazines as recent mags ‘will make you friends’. FHM for the men, Closer for the ‘girls’. Nuff said.

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