Sexual consent training for all army staff, regardless of seniority, demands SNP

All army staff should receive mandatory sexual consent training regardless of seniority and starting date, the SNP has demanded.

It comes after reports in The Times that all new recruits to the army, including those at Sandhurst military academy, will receive sexual consent training after escalating scandals around behaviour.

The move from the army follows reports around the murder of a Kenyan woman by a British soldier whose identity is understood to be known to colleagues.

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Senior generals gave assurances to Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, that action to improve the culture in the army would be taken at an hour-long meeting in Whitehall but no women were reportedly present.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is facing calls to do more to prevent sexual harassment in the army

This also follows a parliamentary report this summer which concluded two-thirds of women in the armed forces have experience bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination during their career.

The move to implement sexual consent training was criticised as not going far enough by the SNP, who labelled it “long overdue”.

The party also called on the Defence Secretary to expand the training to any army staff member alongside a wider package of measures, including seeing rape and sexual assault cases tried in a civilian, rather than military, court.

Carol Monaghan MP, the SNP’s armed forces and veterans spokesperson said: “The Defence Secretary’s announcement that sexual consent training will be introduced is long overdue, but still doesn’t go far enough.

“This training will only be mandatory for new recruits and will be optional for those already deployed. This type of training must be made mandatory for every individual within the armed forces – whether they’re a recruit or a commanding officer.

“The Defence Secretary can’t stop there. He must also deliver a much wider package of measures, including implementing both the MoD’s Service Justice System review and the Wigston review recommendations, and legislate for rape and sexual assault cases to be trialled in a civil court instead of an all-male military court.”

She added: “There is no point in the UK government holding their hands up and saying they are ashamed of their record on issues such as rape conviction rates if they aren’t going to take meaningful action. That helps nobody.

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“Meeting with army generals is a step in the right direction, but the fact that no females were present only highlights the fact that women aren’t being treated with dignity and respect.

“It’s time for Ben Wallace and the UK government to heed the warning calls and finally deliver drastic action to root out this horror once and for all.”

Responding, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said appropriate disciplinary action was taken where there was misconduct.

They said: “We are committed to improving the experience for women in the Armed Forces in every area of their lives and do not tolerate abuse, bullying​, harassment or discrimination.

“When allegations are made they are thoroughly investigated and, where misconduct has been proven, the appropriate disciplinary action is taken.

“Many changes have been introduced to improve the experience for women in the Armed Forces, and military service remains a fantastic career opportunity for men and women alike."

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