UK

Dozens of teens in armed forces claim to have been raped or sexually assaulted

Dozens of teenagers serving in the armed forces claim to have been raped or sexually assaulted by comrades or instructors in the last year

  • Nearly half of the alleged victims were in training at Army College in Harrogate 
  • Figures suggest 47 recruits under 18 allegedly victims of sexual assault last year
  • One case has been proven, four are ongoing and 11 transferred to civilian police 
  • Inquiry last year found female members were being let down by army bosses
  • Comes after Ministry of Defence zero tolerance policy towards sexual offenders

Dozens of teenagers who have served in the armed forces alleged that they have been sexually assaulted by fellow comrades or instructors, according to defence chiefs. 

Nearly half of those claiming to be victims of sex attacks were undergoing training at an Army college in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, which is attended by school-leavers as young as 16 years old, according to The Sun

According to figures which emerged just one year after a report by MPs accused military bosses of covering up rape and sexual abuse to protect themselves, one in ten teenage girls in the service claim to be victims of a sex attack. 

New figures released by ministers following an inquiry by the Commons defence committee suggest that 47 recruits under 18 said they were sexually assaulted or raped last year. 

The inquiry concluded that female members of the military were being let down by senior officers. 

Armed Forces Minister Leo Docherty told MPs that 37 of the 47 victims were female, with one case proven, four ongoing and 11 transferred to the civilian police. 

Incidents within the force are usually dealt with by the Royal Military, which is responsible for the policing of service personnel. 

Of the complaints, 22 were based at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate at the time of the offence. 

Figures suggest there were nearly 300 girls aged 18 and under serving in the forces during the attacks.  

Colonel Philip Ingram a former Army commanding officer said: ‘These statistics are shocking whatever way you look at them.

‘They highlight the most basic of failures in command at a number of different levels and yet it takes a parliamentary question to get the information into the public domain, delivered by the very minister who continuously says the MoD is making huge progress in addressing inappropriate behaviours.

‘Until defence gets some form of independent oversight then it will continue to cover up what can only be described as atrocious acts.’

An MoD spokesman said: ‘Sexual assault or harassment has no place in the Armed Forces and all allegations are taken seriously and investigated by the service police.

‘We continue to improve reporting mechanisms so personnel feel safe in raising issues and confident allegations will be acted on.

‘This includes creating a victim and witness care unit, ensuring complaints of bullying, harassment or discrimination are dealt with by outside the chain of command, and strengthening the levers available to discharge someone who has committed a sexual offence.’

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defence published its zero tolerance approach to sexual offenders within the armed forces. It applies to the Royal Navy, RAF and the Army under one approach. 

Key changes included introducing the administrative discharge from service with no option to serve elsewhere for those found guilty of sexual offences. 

The policy also states that sexual relationships between instructors and trainees are unacceptable and will result in the instructor being discharged.  

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