‘It breaks my heart’: former military member on sexual assault statistics
Canada’s chief of defence says the findings of a national survey on sexual misconduct in the military are “sobering” and a clear indicator that more work needs to be done.
“Harmful sexual behaviour is a real problem in our institution. We know it and we’re trying to tackle it head on,” Gen. Jonathan Vance said in Ottawa Monday, Canada’s chief of the defence staff.
Vance ordered a national survey be compiled over the past year, collecting data from thousands of Canadian Armed Forces members on their encounters with inappropriate sexual behaviour.
He wasn’t pleased with the results.
“I am extremely disappointed,” he said after learning almost 1,000 Forces members reported sexual assault over the past year. “My orders were clear, my expectations were clear. And those who choose, or chose, to not follow my orders will be dealt with … and as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy if they leave our ranks permanently.”
The survey was ordered as a way to quantify the amount of sexual assault incidents happening in the forces.
“We now have a baseline, feedback from more than 43,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces,” Vance said.
Nearly two per cent of all members reported experiencing sexual assault during the past year.
It’s a statistic that former military member, Glynis Rogers, can relate to.
She’s the plaintiff in a proposed class action lawsuit against the institution, based on allegations of systemic gender and sexual-orientation-based discrimination, harassment, bullying and sexual assault of women in the Canadian Armed Forces.
“I’m only one example of what has been going on in the military,” Rogers said.
The statement of claim was filed at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on November 21 by Halifax-based lawyer Ray Wagner.
It alleges that the Attorney General of Canada is “vicariously liable for the systemic sexual misconduct.”
Rogers joined the Forces at the age of 18 and alleges she experienced objectification as well as persistent and systemic discrimination based on her gender.
Her claim also alleges she was sexually assaulted by a male member while at CFB Borden in Borden, Ont., but was hesitant to tell anyone what happened.
She feels her story is one of many and is part of a bigger problem.
“It breaks my heart knowing I’m not the only woman who’s gone through this on a daily basis in the military,” she said.
Wagner says by filing a class action lawsuit, Rogers is shedding a light on a widespread issue that needs to be addressed.
“When somebody brave like Glynis tells her story, you’ll see a lot more people come forward because they’ll find a comfort knowing they’re not alone,” he said.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.