A year after former Supreme Court of Canada justice Marie Deschamps issued a scathing report describing a military culture of sexual harassment as “endemic,” a new survey by Canada’s statistics gathering agency, StatsCan, found that 960 regular members of the Canadian military (1.7% of the total regular force) reported being sexually assaulted in the last year, either in the workplace or in situations involving military members, national defence employees, or contractors. Results for the primary reserve, consisting mostly of part-time members, were higher (2.6%).
This was after chief of defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, issued an order to eliminate abuse, harassment, and assault in the military in a mission called Operation Honour. Almost a third (27.3%) of these reports were made by women in the force at least once in the course of their military careers, compared with only 3.8% for men. Vance called the reports sobering and declared that he is “extremely disappointed.”
In the last year, four times as many women reported being assaulted than men (4.8% to 1.2%). In the primary reserve, the results for women and men were 8.2% and 1.4% respectively.
StatsCan also found that 79% of the regular force saw, heard, or personally experienced “inappropriate sexualized behaviour,” which includes inappropriate verbal or non-verbal communication, sexually explicit materials, unwanted contact, or suggested sexual relationships. 76% of the force reported sexual jokes. Inappropriate sexual comments were reported by 39% and inappropriate discussions about members’ sex lives were reported by 34%.
34% saw, heard, or personally experienced discriminatory behaviour based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 22% reported sexual stereotyping.
Only 23% of victims of sexual abuse actually reported their abuse to a person in authority.