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Military College Scandal: 5% Female Cadets Sexual Assault


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The issue of sexual exploitation within the Canadian military has come under intense scrutiny following the release of a 2023 survey conducted at military colleges. The findings reveal alarming rates of sexual assault and misconduct, particularly among female cadets. These results highlight a critical need for systemic changes within the Canadian Armed Forces to address and eradicate this pervasive issue.

Survey Findings: A Grim Picture

According to the survey, 5% of female students at Canadian military colleges reported being sexually attacked over the past year, involving threats, physical restraint, or forced sexual acts. An additional 9% reported sexual assaults while drugged, intoxicated, or otherwise manipulated. These statistics underscore the severity and prevalence of sexual violence within military educational institutions.

Moreover, a staggering 82% of female students experienced some form of unwanted sexual behavior, including sexual jokes, inappropriate comments about their bodies, and unwanted touching. This high incidence rate suggests a deeply ingrained culture of sexual harassment and exploitation.

Broader Implications and Historical Context

The survey results were part of a broader investigation recommended by former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, who reviewed the Canadian Armed Forces’ sexual misconduct crisis. Arbour’s findings indicated that the military colleges’ culture remains outdated and hostile towards female cadets, necessitating urgent reforms.

Historically, the military’s response to such issues has been to downplay the problem, comparing it to similar issues at civilian universities. However, the unique environment and hierarchical structure of military colleges arguably exacerbate these problems, making them more challenging to address.

Institutional Response and Recommendations

The Canadian Defence Academy, which oversees military colleges, has acknowledged these issues as “completely unacceptable” and has begun implementing measures to address them. Initiatives include the establishment of a “cultural evolution” organization aimed at promoting inclusive, equitable, and respectful interactions. Additionally, advisory groups have been formed to provide feedback to the chain of command.

However, skepticism remains about the effectiveness of these measures. Many female students expressed a lack of trust in college administrations to handle their allegations seriously, with over 40% doubting the fairness of their institutions’ handling of sexual violence complaints.

Moving Forward: The Need for Cultural Change

Addressing sexual exploitation within the Canadian military requires more than just policy changes; it necessitates a profound cultural shift. Defense Minister Bill Blair has emphasized the need for significant changes to ensure that cadets are treated with fairness and dignity. The government has initiated steps to form a review board to examine the future of military colleges, focusing on issues of sexual misconduct, misogyny, and discrimination.

Moreover, the survey is now an annual event, allowing the military to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments. This continuous evaluation is crucial for ensuring that reforms are effective and that the military environment becomes safer and more inclusive for all cadets.

Sexual exploitation

The 2023 survey of Canadian military colleges has shed light on the persistent and pervasive issue of sexual exploitation within the armed forces. While steps are being taken to address these problems, the path to meaningful change is long and requires sustained effort and commitment from all levels of military leadership. As Canada strives to create a more respectful and inclusive culture within its military institutions, the well-being and safety of its cadets must remain a top priority.

Muhammad Arshad
Muhammad Arshad
Mr Arshad is is an experienced journalist who currently holds the position of Deputy Editor (Editorial) at The Think Tank Journal.

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