Seeking worldwide lessons on reforming military sexual misconduct

We've heard much lately about problems of sexual harassment and reporting abuse inside the Canadian Armed Forces Today, we are asking how other militaries around the world have dealt with their own problems of sexual misconduct, what the Canadian Armed Forces can learn... and how it can reform.
Orders written by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, show in the case of at least three recommendations of a report into military harassment, brass were told to plan to effectively ignore the advice of the external reviewer, former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
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Madame Deschamps' report made 10 principal recommendations, one of which was that there should be some independent authority to which military personnel can report allegations of sexual misconduct... I can re-confirm that it is the intention of the Canadian Armed Forces to identify a bureau outside of the normal command structure of the military to which allegations of sexual misconduct can be reported.- Minister of defence, Jason Kenney, speaking to reporters this week.

The report from retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps has shone a bright light on a dark side of the Canadian Armed Forces. It describes a, "sexualized culture," ... one where women and LGBT personnel, in particular, are not only exposed to rampant sexual harassment.... but where that sexual harassment is often very difficult to report.

That's because under the current system, a soldier who's been sexually assaulted can only report through his or her chain of command. And as the Deschamps Report notes, the aggressor is very often someone within that same chain of command. Which results in many victims, remaining silent. Hence, that key recommendation — that an independent organization be established to receive complaints, and offer support. And, that does appear to be the direction the Canadian Forces is heading as it works on reform.

But the problems exposed by the Deschamps Report are similar to problems other military forces around the world have already confronted on their own. And the solutions those other military forces have implemented will help to guide Canada's Forces in the future.

So that's where we're looking today, at how military forces from around the world handle sexual misconduct, what works, and what doesn't.

  • Emma Norton is a lawyer at the UK's National Council for Civil Liberties, and she was in London, England.
  • Miranda Peterson is the program and policy director at Protect Our Defenders, an American organization that seeks to reform military training, investigation and adjudication systems related to sexual violence. She was in Washington.
  • Arne Willy Dahl is the former Judge Advocate General for the Norwegian Armed Forces, and he was in Oslo, Norway.
     

We also contacted the American Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, as well as the British Service Prosecuting Authority. Neither made anyone available for comment.
 

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Natalie Walters and Julian Uzielli.