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Ten shocking details from the military report on sexual misconduct

Marie Deschamps, a former Supreme Court justice and author of an inquiry into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces, speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday, April 30, 2015. General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, is at left.
Marie Deschamps, a former Supreme Court justice and author of an inquiry into sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces, speaks at a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday, April 30, 2015. General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, is at left. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Adrian Wyld

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OTTAWA – When former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps put together the external review on sexual misconduct in the Canadian military she was brutally honest in describing what she discovered. Between July until December 2014 she consulted with 700 people as part of her investigation. Here are some of the most shocking details found within the report.

1. “One officer cadet joked that they do not report sexual harassment because it happens all the time.”

2. Participants reported of dubious relationships between lower rank women and higher rank men, and date rape. In extreme cases, sexual violence was used to enforce power relationships and to punish and ostracize a member of a unit.

3. The use of the word “cunt” is commonplace, and rape jokes are tolerated.

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4. Military men and women internalize the prevailing sexualized culture as they move up the ranks in the military “[…] high-ranking women tend to adapt their own conduct and to adopt male attitudes in order to conform to the perceived social values of the organization.” In the report, this is found to be a coping mechanism.

5. Non-Commissioned Officers are responsible for “imposing a culture where no one speaks up.” Some senior officials condone a culture of sexually inappropriate conduct, as well as deterring the reporting of such incidents.

6. Victims of sexual assault or harassment who make a complaint are commonly removed from their unit, which is considered a form of punishment and is also detrimental for their military career.

7. The process to resolve incidents of sexual assault and harassment involves three stages, one of which the victim is encouraged to confront the alleged harasser. This is seen to be a deterrent to reporting a complaint.

8. Male victims of sexual assault are even less likely than women to report what happened to them. Deschamps heard stories about violent sexual attacks involving men, including gang rape. The report found that male victims may be afraid of being seen as weak, or potentially as gay in a culture that continues to have “strains of homophobia,” which prevents them reporting the crime.

9. Some men hold a negative attitude towards having a woman in the military, and instead of calling her a soldier or a sailor, she is labeled as an “ice princess,” a “bitch,” or a “slut.”

10. The integration of women in the military is challenged by the sexualized culture. One of the sayings Dechamps heard was is that woman only¬†enter the military “to find a man, leave a man, or to become a man.”

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Read the full report below.

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