960 regular force military members reported sexual assault in the last year, StatsCan finds

About 960 regular military members, or some 1.7 per cent of the regular force, have reported they were sexually assaulted in the last year, after the launch of a program designed to eliminate misconduct in the military, a new survey by Statistics Canada has found.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, called the reports of abuse “regrettably” sobering. He said he is “extremely disappointed” the survey revealed rampant incidents continue after he issued an order to stop such assaults, through a mission called Operation Honour.

The study found the incidents took place in the workplace or in situations involving military members, National Defence employees or contractors.

It indicates more than a quarter of all women in the military, or 27.3 per cent, reported sexual assault at least once over their military careers. That is “significantly higher” than the proportion of men, 3.8 per cent, who reported assault during their careers.

Sexual assault includes unwanted sexual touching, sexual attacks and sexual activity to which the victim is unable to consent.

Female regular force members were four times more likely than males to report being sexually assaulted in the past 12 months (4.8 per cent compared with 1.2 per cent), the survey indicates. 

Among those serving in the primary reserve, which comprises mostly part-time members, 2.6 per cent reported to Statistics Canada that they were victims of sexual assault in the last 12 months. Female primary reserve members (8.2 per cent) were more likely than their male counterparts (1.4 per cent) to report they were victims of sexual assault in the previous year, according to the report.

‘Inappropriate sexualized behaviour’

The survey also found 79 per cent of members in the regular force saw, heard or personally experienced “inappropriate sexualized behaviour” over the previous year, including inappropriate verbal or non-verbal communication, sexually explicit materials, unwanted contact or suggested sexual relationships.

Sexual jokes were the most common type of inappropriate sexualized behaviour, witnessed or experienced by 76 per cent of regular force members.

There were also inappropriate sexual comments (39 per cent) and inappropriate discussion about sex life (34 per cent).

Other findings in the survey include:

  • One in three (34 per cent) regular force members saw, heard or personally experienced behaviour that was discriminatory on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Stereotyping based on sex (that is, suggestions that an individual does not act the way a person of their sex is supposed to act) was the most common type of discriminatory behaviour witnessed in the workplace over the 12 months, with 22 per cent of regular Force members reporting this behaviour.
  • Almost one in four (23 per cent) of victims reported at least once incident of sexual assault to someone in authority.

A crisis response centre was established by the military after a scathing report last year by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Marie Deschamps, who outlined an “endemic” culture of sexual harassment in the military.

Vance launched a sweeping campaign to eliminate abuse, harassment and assault within the CAF.

Article source: