Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff General Jonathan Vance takes part in a news conference upon the release of a progress report on addressing inappropriate sexual behavior in the military, August 30, 2016. ©Reuters
The Canadian military has warned against a dramatic surge in the number of sexual offence complaints among its ranks, saying the figure is expected to increase 22 percent this year.
In a disturbing report on Tuesday, the military said it received 106 founded complaints of sexual misconduct in the first six months of the current year, which warranted a criminal probe.
If the second half of the year sees almost the same number of complaints, as a Department of National Defense spokesman estimates, the expected 212 cases for 2016 will then top the 174 cases last year by 22 percent.
However, the rise in sexual assaults and harassment cases in the Canadian military is perceived as a “positive indicator” in the report, which argues that “military members are more aware of the problem and more confident in stepping forward and reporting incidents.”
Chief of the Defense Staff of the Canadian military General Jonathan Vance said 30 people faced “career-impacting” punishments as a result of the investigations from April to July.
“Those who do not see the wisdom of what we are trying to accomplish and choose not to modify their negative behavior will be compelled to do so or they will be released,” Vance further said.
File photo shows Canadian forces personnel sit inside a C-17 Globemaster.
It was the second report on a program launched by the Canadian military to deal with the issue of sexual abuses within its rank.
The first report shocked the North American nation when it was released on April 30, 2015. It showed that sexual misconduct was “endemic” in the Canadian military.
“Victims, concerned about how they will be treated by the military justice system, tend not to report sexual assaults. Many of those victims who did report an offence said that their experiences were ‘atrocious,’” the report said.
The report also revealed that a widely-held perception in the lower ranks was that the higher ranks condone inappropriate sexual conduct or are ready to turn a blind eye.