MoD LAUNCHED HARASSMENT INITIATIVE

PUBLISHED: 15:51 06 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 May 2010

A NEW drive to rid the armed forces of sexual harassment has been launched by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The announcement comes after research by the MoD and Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) found there to be widespread problems, including offens

A NEW drive to rid the armed forces of sexual harassment has been launched by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The announcement comes after research by the MoD and Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) found there to be widespread problems, including offensive jokes and language.

Nearly all (99 per cent) of the servicewomen who took part in the study said they had witnessed sexualised behaviour in the past year.

Worryingly, one in seven women said they had suffered a particularly upsetting experience, including sexual assault.

Researchers found that jokes, stories, language and material offensive to women were widespread across all three armed services.

"It is clear from the research we have conducted that we have a problem which we must urgently deal with," said Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff.

"This is not about political correctness, it is about operational effectiveness," he added.

"Our success as armed forces depends fundamentally on respect, trust and mutual interdependence.

"Anything that weakens those bonds of trust and respect weakens us as a fighting force. Harassment does just that, so it is crucial that we deal with it."

Last year the EOC suspended a formal investigation into the problem of sexual harassment in the armed forces on condition that the issue was addressed by the MoD.

The creation of a new action plan is part of that process and the MoD said the move demonstrated its commitment to tackling the serious issues highlighted by the study.

In a statement, the MoD said: "The action plan aims to ensure that leaders in the armed forces take seriously their responsibilities to deal with harassment by handling complaints appropriately and implementing effective monitoring arrangements.

"Service personnel would be encouraged to offer their views on how to prevent and deal with sexual harassment.

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